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Go to jail,but collect your salary

Go to jail,but collect your salary The Yinan County People's Procuratorate in Shandong Province has begun recovering years of salaries...

Go to jail,but collect your salary

The Yinan County People's Procuratorate in Shandong Province has begun recovering years of salaries paid to former government staffers currently serving prison sentences mostly for graft. A week-long investigation revealed that the blunder came from a "lack of communication" between judicial authorities and the procuratorate, prompting the introduction of a new local regulation aimed at preventing similar cases occurring in the future.
However, the move has been met with suspicion from some legal experts, with one dismissing it as an attempt to "fool the public" with "no sound legal basis."
Bureaucratic blunder
In late April, the procuratorate found 32 imprisoned former government employees had received salaries since 2009 despite being behind bars.
"The ex-government staffers were imprisoned for various charges, including bribery and corruption," Zhu Xiangui, director of the procuratorate's administrative office, told the Global Times. Zhu didn't disclose how much was paid in salaries to the jailed officials.
Earlier this month, the procuratorate teamed up with the local public security and social security bureaus to ensure salaries for those imprisoned were terminated. A regulation was also introduced to prevent salaries being paid to ex-government staffers serving jail time.
The regulation stipulates that once cases involving government employees are heard in court, the Communist Party of China's (CPC) local discipline and supervision bodies must be timely informed by judicial authorities and suspend salaries of those convicted.
But legal experts have criticized the regulation as unnecessary, while raising suspicion over claims that salaries were continually paid simply because of a bureaucratic error.
"Paying salaries to imprisoned ex-officials is gross malpractice. Authorities are attempting to fool the public with their explanation of the scandal," said Wang Zhenyu, deputy director of the Public Decision-Making Research Center with the China University of Political Science and Law. He added that introducing the new regulation merely aims to cover up their mistakes.
"Many of these jailed ex-officials have been imprisoned for years. There's minimal possibility that the local procuratorate did not informed government departments, whose staff members were no longer coming to work, of their trials and convictions."
Wang criticized the new regulation as being a knee-jerk reaction, saying it was flawed in principle despite its intentions.
He said that the regulation has "no sound legal basis," because if a civil servant is arrested, their employer as a government department can't stop paying them their salary if they are  a suspect.
Are existing laws too soft?
China already has regulations specifically dealing with public servants who commit crimes. The CPC's charter stipulates that Party members convicted of serious crimes will automatically have their membership revoked. A regulation implemented in 2007 on the punishment of civil servants also requires officials jailed for any crime to be dismissed from their government posts.
Aside from the Yinan scandal, other cases of jailed ex-officials receiving salaries behind bars have made news in recent years across the country.
An employee surnamed Han who worked for the Yanshan County Rural Integrated Service Center in Cangzhou, Hebei Province, was sentenced to four years in jail for embezzlement in 2010. Earlier this year, it was reported on hebei.com.cn, the province's official news portal, that Han had still received his salary while serving prison time.
In another case, the former branch head of China Post in Zigui county, Hubei Province, surnamed Li, was jailed for 10 years after being convicted for corruption in 2001. More than two years after his arrest and several months into his prison term, Li had received a salary to the tune of 25,000 yuan ($2,376), Hubei-based newspaper Chutian Jin Bao reported.
Cases of jailed ex-officials being paid in prison have also emerged in Anhui, Hunan and Sichuan provinces in recent years. Further fueling public anger is that few reasonable explanations are offered by authorities when pressed on how such cases could happen at all. Commenting on the jailing of Han in Hebei, an anonymous official from Yanshan said, "No one told us to stop paying his salary. We hadn't encountered such a situation before and didn't know the relevant laws."
Wang pinpointed the most likely reason salaries are still paid as being camaraderie among prisoners' former colleagues, who seek to ensure jailed ex-officials and their families are financially secure.
Closing the loopholes
Similar cases in the private sector are not as prevalent as the public sector because money is more closely tracked, columnist and current affairs commentator Ma Timing wrote in the Wuhan-based Changjiang Daily newspaper. Ma argued that some local government organizations didn't give careful consideration toward managing taxpayers' money.
Liu Kaixiang, a law professor at Peking University, agreed that such cases tarnish the government's reputation and urged more to be done to prevent jailed ex-officials being paid.
Local governments should also improve their accounting methods and improve communication with relevant organizations, said Liu. The law professor added that the effectiveness of the new regulation requiring closer communication between relevant departments would be measured by its enforcement.
"If government officials hold onto the sense of privilege that they believe entitles them to have the last say, cases even more severe than this will continue appearing," Liu said.



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AboutMicro News: Go to jail,but collect your salary
Go to jail,but collect your salary
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