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UPDATED: February 8, 2014 NO. 49 DECEMBER 5, 2013
Could Clean Rewards Prevent Corruption?

Wen Xianghou (Dongnan Morning News): Clean performance rewards are intended to fight corruption, though their effect remains unclear. Given the huge amount of wealth involved in many corruption cases, such a post-retirement reward might prove insufficient.

Chen Xiaoxia (Dongnan Morning News): Civil servants are provided with much better salaries and social security than many involved in other industries. A clean performance reward would thus further widen the income gap, increasing social inequality.

Besides, such a reward system, if implemented, should rely on the declaration of personal assets and rigid assessment criteria. It's unacceptable to offer rewards to those who only claim to be clean.

Du Meixia (Dongnan Morning News): Why are some of the civil servants corrupt? Because they are unable to control and curb their greed. Would a clean performance reward be capable of repressing this? The answer is murky.

Some civil servants, particularly those in important positions, enjoy high salaries, plus full social security coverage. Either at their incumbent positions or after retirement, they are blessed with decent and comfortable lives. Why are some found to be corrupt? Nothing else is to blame but human greed.

In my opinion, to curb corruption, stepping up regulations and supervision related to civil servant practice is more important.

Li Fangxiang (Chengdu Business Daily): In terms of adopting a clean performance reward system, it's unwise to copy the example of other countries. We must first tackle two questions. First, it has to be determined how much money would be involved in rewards. Too much would add a fiscal burden on the government, while too little would make no dent on corrupt practices. Second, the correct time for offering such a reward should be decided. In many countries, civil servants receive rewards after retiring, though in China we have our own situation.

Luo Ruiming (Chengdu Business Daily): Compared to rigid discipline, a clean performance reward offers much "softer" restrictions and acts as a supplement to current regulations.

However, without strict supervision, clean performance rewards would fail to restrict improper behavior and might become merely another form of welfare. We know that the clean performance reward system works well in other countries, based on strict preconditions. Take Singapore for example. Government officials all use their private cars, and pay for petroleum as well as repairs and maintenance. Using government cars for private business is illegal. Another example is Hong Kong, where officials are accountable for every penny he or she receives or spends. Anyone involved in corruption is punished severely. Only under such conditions could we expect clean performance rewards to play an effective role in curbing corruption.

Fu Cheng (City Evening News): For many years, Chinese civil servants, particularly those at the grassroots level, have been living on relatively low salaries, which have made some look for alternative means of income.

It is necessary for people to understand that only hard work and a clean life can bring true economic benefits. A clean performance reward, based on long-term assessment, would ensure civil servants a comfortable retirement, and make the need for corrupt action unnecessary.

Such a system is only at its proposal stage, with a lot of details still to be determined, especially with regards to an asset disclosure mechanism.

Zhu Lijia (anhuinews.com): Paying high salaries to discourage corruption is not a new idea, and is already widely implemented. However, it must be pointed out that such policies are seldom mentioned in highly-developed countries. Civil servants should be treated equally to other professionals. The so-called clean reward system actually goes against this principle.

Although this policy was once practiced in ancient times, it always ended in failure because it led to even bigger forms of corruption. Human greed is endless, and thus to encourage clean governance with economic awards indicates governmental surrender to corruption.

The clean-performance-reward policy works well in Singapore and Hong Kong because both are only cities, each with a limited amount of civil servants. Besides, both have the financial foundations to support such a system. Of course, well-developed supplementary systems, including assets declaration mechanisms, are also very important to the success of clean performance rewards.

Email us at: zanjifang@bjreview.com

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