A report submitted by the Board of Audit to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda shows that government organizations and state-financed corporations still waste public money. The board uncovered 451 cases of inappropriate or illegal accounting amounting to ¥31 billion in fiscal 2006. Some cases border on crimes. Government workers need to improve their ethics.

Of the ¥31 billion, ¥26 billion was lost to improper accounting, including wasteful spending and asset evaluation errors, and ¥5 billion to uncollected tax and social insurance premiums.

The ministry with the worst record was the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry with ¥6.2 billion in wasteful spending and inappropriate accounting, followed by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry with ¥3.7 billion, and the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry with ¥2.5 billion.

A total of ¥159 million was paid inappropriately to workers at labor bureaus in 22 prefectures from fiscal 1999 to fiscal 2006. Here, the board discovered that overtime was paid to workers ostensibly for working even after the doors to their offices were locked for the night. The board determined that ¥28.18 million was paid for work that was never done.

Worse, prior to the audit, the chief of the Nagano bureau destroyed overtime orders and records on when doors were locked. Although the labor ministry slashed the official’s salary by 10 percent for three months, this behavior should be regarded and treated as embezzlement of public money.

Discretionary contracts to procure equipment and services have been criticized since they tend to breed corruption. Yet government ministries concluded 80,000 such contracts worth ¥1.3 trillion, accounting for more than 60 percent of the value of all contracts concluded in fiscal 2006.

Two prefectures and five cities failed to inform contractors of ¥8.1 billion in forfeitures for their role in bid-rigging state-financed public works. Officials who violate accounting rules should realize that they harm the morale of diligent public servants and damage people’s trust in the government.

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