March 15, 2016 / 3:08 AM / 2 years ago

China anti-graft campaign to tackle poverty relief funds misuse

Cao Jianming, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate of China, speaks during the third plenary meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/China Daily

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s anti-graft campaign will take on a new dimension by targeting officials who misuse or embezzle poverty relief funds, the country’s top prosecutor told state media in an interview published on Tuesday.

Cao Jianming told the official China Daily graft probes will become “more aggressive” by going after grassroots officials to stamp out abuse of finances for rural living allowances, education and medical insurance, as well as ecological protection.

Officials overseeing traffic management in rural areas, hydropower and electric power infrastructure, in addition to rural home renovations will also come under scrutiny, Cao said.

“We will step up efforts to combat such crimes to let more people at the grassroots level share the fruits of the anti-graft campaign,” he added.

The Chinese government allocated 43.3 billion yuan ($6.66 billion) for poverty relief in 2014, double the amount in 2010. In October, it set a goal of lifting everyone in rural areas out of poverty by 2020.

The number of corrupt officials who have misused and embezzled poverty relief funds has sharply risen due to “loopholes in the supervision mechanism, and the high number of anti-poverty projects and funds involved”, Cao said.

Since 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign against deep-rooted graft, vowing to go after powerful “tigers” as well as lowly “flies”, warning the problem could cripple the party’s decades-long hold on power.

Reporting by Jessica Macy Yu; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Simon Cameron-Moore

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