Family planning fines revealed

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-6 0:58:01

Guangdong Province has belatedly revealed that it collected 1.456 billion yuan ($239 million) in social maintenance fees for 2012.

Guangdong's disclosure, which came in a press release Wednesday, is considered as late, as 23 other regions have already disclosed their figures for 2012.

This amounted to 20 billion yuan, said Zhejiang-based lawyer Wu Youshui, who had made requests for information disclosures regarding the fee in July.

The fees refer to fines imposed on those who violate China's family planning policy, and are collected by local family planning authorities. The fines are normally two to three times local residents' average annual income, and are sent to local government finance departments, according to regulations. 

"It is clearly forbidden to embezzle the fees. Violators will be seriously punished. We also welcome supervision from society," read the press release by Guangdong Health Department.

Han Zhipeng, a delegate to the Guangzhou People's Political Consultative Conference, said Thursday that he was relieved to see a response from the health department two days after he had requested information about the fee. 

"The fee is an administrative charge, not a State secret. It should be normal for the government to make the information public," Han said.

However, both Han and Wu pointed out that while the disclosures should be regarded as progress, it was still inadequate since there were no specific details of revenue and expenditure. 

"The social maintenance fee is a total mess now. While they all claim that it's clear-cut in terms of money collection and administrative expenses, some may have failed to do as they say," Wu said.

So far, none of the 24 regions, which have only given a total number of the fees they collected, have disclosed how they spent the money.

"Without a detailed report or an audit, people will naturally wonder if there has been any embezzlement. The absence of detailed reporting also proves that the authorities failed to strictly supervise the fee collection," Han noted.

The National Audit Office issued a statement in September, admitting that there had been no comprehensive audit on social maintenance fees.

Discrepancies in levying and paying these fees have been in the news lately.

A Beijing woman, surnamed Liu, will appear in court Friday to sue Beijing police for not giving her eight-year-old son a hukou, or household registration. She was fined 330,000 yuan in social maintenance fees, but could not pay it on her monthly 2,000 yuan salary.

Liu's lawyer, Huang Yizhi, said as there is no national standard for imposing the fees, this can lead to chaos.

"The hukou and the fee should not be linked," she said. 

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