Auditors discovered almost six billion yuan missing from the country’s low-income housing scheme, Global Times reports.
This is why we can’t have nice things, even when those things aren’t that nice to begin with, and are more like very-basic-things, like basic apartments for poor people.
According to AFP:
About 5.8 billion yuan (HK$7.35 million) went towards “loan repayment, foreign investment, land requisition and house demolitions, office cash flow and other expenses not related to affordable-housing projects”, the National Audit Office said on its website.
A total of 360 projects or organisations “embezzled” the funds, it said.
A single contract could be divvied up and sold for kickbacks, then sold again and again, until it reached the bottom of a food chain of labor, where the workers were cheap and unskilled. (The practice is hardly unique to the railways: in 2010, a rookie welder employed by an illegal subcontractor was working on a dormitory in Shanghai when he dropped his torch and set the building on fire; fifty-eight people died.) In November, 2011, a former cook with no engineering experience was found to be building a high-speed railway bridge using a crew of unskilled migrant laborers who substituted crushed stones for cement in the foundation. In railway circles, the practice of substituting cheap materials for real ones was common enough to rate its own expression: touliang huanzhu—robbing the beams to put in the pillars.
China’s worsening housing bubble means that apartments, especially in first tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, are out of most people’s price range. In April, a Beijing apartment sold for 95,000 yuan per square metre.
[Image credit: @dcmaster]