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Cover Stories Series 2011> China's Anti-Graft Efforts> Archive> Forum
UPDATED: July 26, 2010 NO. 30 JULY 29, 2010
Can an 'Honesty Fund' Guarantee Honesty?

Wu Jiang (Chinese Business View): Staying away from corruption should be part of a civil servant's obligation. When incorruptibility needs praise and extra rewards, corruption becomes the acquiescent option.

Cases of corruption often involve more than tens of millions of yuan in illegal income, which makes the function of an "honesty fund" quite ignorable. Besides, the fund is rendered null for civil servants only if they are caught. As long as the corruption is concealed, corrupt civil servants can still receive their "bonus" without any cost.

An "honesty fund" may even strengthen civil servants' concept of money being the most powerful motivation of all, which runs counter to the original intention of its establishment.


Zhou Hucheng (Dongfang Daily): If a civil servant stays honest and clean, he or she can get extra pay; but if he or she gets caught in corruption, not only is the bonus gone, but also the money he or she has contributed will be confiscated. This entails rewards and punishment as two functions of the "honesty fund" in Jiangmen. From this standpoint, the fund is not a simple rise in salary for civil servants. Instead, it is an effective measure to encourage them to be self-disciplined.

No policy is perfect. We shouldn't count on the fund to exert an influence on corruption when corruptible interest groups still exist. In the current circumstances, any policy that makes any slight change is worth trying.

As is known to all, not all corrupt officials are ultimately caught. Some of them can avoid supervision and stay safe. If a corrupt official is not caught before retirement, he or she can enjoy the benefits of corruption and, at the same time, withdraw deposits from the "honesty fund" in full. This discomforting phenomenon is highly possible. But it is not a reason for strangling this policy in its cradle. The key is more rigorous supervision of power. As a result, before civil servants commit corruption, they will think carefully: What consequence will this action bring?

We sincerely hope the creation of the "honesty fund" will be followed by more measures, ensuring an anti-corruption law and the regulation on officials' property declaration are approved as soon as possible. In this way, an anti-corruption policy will stop wandering on the verges of reality.

Pan Hongqi (Huaxi Business Daily): The concept of the "honesty fund" in Jiangmen accords with the argument high salaries might be a good check against corruption. The "high salaries" mentioned here are not exorbitant payments but those of greater than average levels.

Experience from countries with advanced legal systems shows there are usually two ways of putting this theory into practice. One is paying "high salaries" in full to civil servants every month; the other is deducting certain amounts of money from their salaries each month as an incorruptibility deposit, which will add up to "a huge amount" after a lifetime's work. Only if they receive a clean assessment will the civil servants be able to withdraw this money when they retire. When comparing the two courses of action, we can see the latter is more helpful in cultivating a civil servant's sense of self-discipline and is a more scientific arrangement. Because of this, people shouldn't judge this fund too harshly.

Some people misunderstand the role of high salaries as a check against corruption. They think, as long as people are greedy, no matter how much a salary is, it will not eliminate corruption. Though high salaries do not necessarily bring about incorruptibility, they are a stimulus for it.

Liang Feng (Jiangmen Daily): Recently, whether to implement the policy of using high salaries to check against corruption and whether this will assure incorruptibility have been the center of discussion. The "honesty fund" in Jiangmen is obviously a proactive attempt in this regard.

The fund reflects the concept of tackling and preventing corruption by economic means. Compared with previous "moral education" campaigns, the new system is intended to stimulate interest among civil servants by dispensing or deducting from their incorruptibility deposits according to a clean or corrupt performance. It has great significance for promoting the construction of clean and honest governance in China.

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