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China to Audit Use of Funds, Goods in Earthquake Relief

The National Audit Office (NAO) said on Friday that it would audit the use of cash and goods for quake disaster regions, to ensure resources were strictly managed and used in a proper and timely manner.

Following Monday's devastating earthquake in southwestern China, a large quantity of funds and goods, including donations, were dispatched for disaster relief operations, and it was necessary to track how they were used, the NAO said in a statement.

The NAO will make sure that these resources are distributed on time and in full; that they are distributed in an open and just way and that they are used for the designated purposes, said the statement.

Auditors will investigate and deal with any attempt to hide, intercept or misappropriate donations, said the NAO.

The quake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale and centered in Wenchuan County of southwestern Sichuan Province, struck on Monday afternoon. More than 50,000 people were feared to have been killed in the disaster.

For disaster relief, the government had earmarked 3.41 billion yuan (US$489 million) so far from the central treasury. And public donations have soared since the disaster.

As of Thursday, domestic donations in cash and goods had reached 1.34 billion yuan, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA).

The MCA had received donations of 58 million yuan, the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) has received 624 million yuan, and the China Charity Federation has received about 220 million yuan.

In addition, enterprises and individuals from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao that invest in the mainland had donated money, food or materials.

The Ministry of Education said Hong Kong movie mogul Run Run Shaw has pledged 100 million Hong Kong dollars (about US$12.8 million) for the reconstruction of schools.

The Li Ka Shing foundation donated 30 million Hong Kong dollars.

As of Wednesday, Taiwan-funded companies and individuals had contributed 560 million yuan in cash and relief supplies, including cement and food.

(Xinhua News Agency May 16, 2008)

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