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Bribes remain rife amongst nation's firms

Update: October, 31/2013 - 08:00
Deputy Government Inspector General Tran Duc Luong told a meeting yesterday that a survey last year by the Government Inspectorate and the World Bank revealed that 70 per cent of businesses actively gave bribes to help their business thrive.— File Photo
HA NOI (VNS)  — Businesses in Viet Nam were often the victims or perpetrators of corruption, a workshop on commercial integrity heard in Ha Noi yesterday.

Deputy Government Inspector General Tran Duc Luong told a meeting yesterday that a survey last year by the Government Inspectorate and the World Bank revealed that 70 per cent of businesses actively gave bribes to help their business thrive.

The other 30 per cent gave bribes at the suggestion of public officials - or following direct harassment.

The meeting is being held in preparation for the 12th anti-corruption dialogue between the Government and development partners in Ha Noi on November 12.

The workshop was told that integrity was considered the key to creating a corruption-free and sustainable business environment.

Luong said the number of enterprises in Viet Nam presently totalled about 400,000.

However, he said that most were doing business on a small scale, with limited resources and without professional administration.

World Bank's specialist Tran Thi Lan Huong said businesses themselves contributed to the creation of a vicious circle of administrative corruption.

The survey showed that 63 per cent of firms said informal payments created an unspoken mechanism of getting things done quickly,

Fifty nine per cent said they sometimes gave money or gifts. Seventy five per cent said they paid without being asked, Huong said.

"When officials create difficulties, firms and citizens see it as an incentive to pay. Difficulties are quickly overcome so officials continue the cycle," she said.

Among the most corrupt sectors perceived by those in the national survey were traffic police, land administration offices, customs and taxation.

But the surprising information garnered from the survey was that firms that paid bribes did worse, Huong said. "Firms that explored other options did better."

Director of Monaco Consultants and Investment JSC Nguyen Binh Minh, who conducted a study on corruption, bribery, and fraud in enterprises early this year under the chair of the Government's Inspectorate's Anti-corruption Department, said corruption and bribery in the operation of enterprises had become an Asian - and global - challenge.

The study showed that when public officials harassed businesses by making things difficult, costs increased, time was wasted and operational efficiency became lower, Minh said.

The workshop was told that commercial bribery was popular from enterprise to enterprise, especially among those that were small and medium-sized.

Enterprises often had to pay bribes, or "brokerage fees" as they are known, to be able to take part in any bidding involving public investments, Minh added.

World Bank Senior Governance Specialist James Anderson said declining rates of investment and growth and risks facing both foreign investors and Vietnamese firms were good reasons for cleaning up the business environment.

Anderson said businesses should seek alternatives to bribery when encountering problems. He said the Government also had to increase transparency and simplified administrative procedures.

Huong from the World Bank said enterprises should adopt codes of conduct against bribes, run anti-corruption campaigns, and review and rotate positions involving a risk of corruption.

Monaco director Minh said it was essential to enforce anti-corruption laws against the private sector and strengthen sanctions against enterprises establishing using bribery to get unfair advantages in the marketplace. — VNS

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