Official property declaration system

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The official property declaration system.

The official property declaration system (官员财产申报制度) is a measure to prevent corruption among officials. Verified in many countries due to its effective anti-corruption effect, it has been gradually implemented and perfected by most countries since the 1980s. It has been proved to be the most fundamental institutional guarantee for anti-corruption campaign.

In 1883, British Parliament passed The Act of Clean Elections and Corruption Prevention, a judicial world premiere aimed at property declaration.

In 1978, U.S. Congress passed The Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which required for all officials in administrative, judicial, and legislative branches to disclose the property status of themselves, their spouses and offspring. In addition, a written report also should be submitted in accordance with specified procedures.

By now China has promulgated and implemented two such property declaration items: Provision on Income Reporting for Cadres above County Level of 1995 and Provision on Property Declaration for Cadres of Provincial Level in 2001 (Trial), which still have many defects and are quite formalistic from a practical point of view. First, the scope of the property declaration is incomplete; it only includes conventional visible income, which is insufficient to reflect the real property status of officials. Second, the time limit and types of declarations are not yet ideal, which leaves many exploitable loopholes.

Another obstacle is that the establishment of the institutions which accepts cases remains unreasonable. Those responsible for examining and auditing often form a mutually protecting front with the officials. Finally then, the result of property declaration lacks legal supervision and safeguards; the relevant laws are not concise enough and the disposal of violation is arbitrary.

At present, China finds itself in a crucial period of its anti-corruption struggle. An established official property declaration system is urgently needed and currently this system is piloted in Shixing County of Shaoguan City, Guangdong Province. It has been revealed that the public servants of Shixing will be able to review the property of 526 officials through intranet access. The pilot programs are set to be completed by the end of 2013, after which the system will be put to use across the whole province.