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Corruption cases blight SOEs

Update: January, 18/2014 - 09:46

Policy loopholes are the cause of the most dangerous types of corruption, according to National Assembly Deputy Nguyen Minh Thuyet while talking with Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper.

Loopholes in policies have provided opportunities for some people to commit corrupt actions. More recently, a few serious cases of corruption have been brought to light. What are your comments about such serious crimes?

The two most serious cases are the Financial Leasing Company No 1, an affiliate of the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Vinalines, both of which were brought to trial.

Hearing the evidence presented during the court trials of these two cases, I, and many Vietnamese people, felt as though our flesh was being cut. Why?

The taxpayers' money has been stolen by some bad people. How could they be able to pay back such huge sums of money to the state coffers?

But more seriously still, those people standing in the docks were high ranking officials who were well educated and assigned to important positions to manage huge assets for the homeland.

While no judge wants to pronounce a death sentence on the accused, still, when justice needs to be done, it must be done to help stabilise the nation and win the people's confidence.

However, during those trials, people kept asking, why did such large crimes happen? Who was behind them? And even the investigation agency, the people's inspectorates and the court, were not able to provide a precise answer.

What are the lessons learned from such large cases?

These corruption cases took place in State owned enterprises (SoEs). So the blame may be a problem in managing state assets. Carrying out business, while paying no heed to how they are operated, is the main cause leading to corruption.

However, if money being spent is an individual's money, it will be used wisely. Here I can say, our present law system is not yet comprehensive and it is not being strictly implemented. If we want to win in the fight against corruption, it is imperative to find where the loopholes are.

What are the problems within the management of SoEs?

In the past, the law stated that only one person was assigned to be in charge of State Corporations. Head over heels with work, how can he or she manage such a huge mission?

Nowadays, management procedures have changed. But during the time under Duong Chi Dung - former chairman of the State-owned shipping corporation Vinalines and Pham Thanh Binh, former chairman of the Viet Nam Shipbuilding Industry Group (Vinashin), like the kings of a corporation they were free to do whatever they wanted to do.

Whoever dared to go against them would be dismissed immediately. In the worst case, those asking questions might have ended up in prison on false accusation charges!

What should we do to overcome such weaknesses?

In my opinion, the best way we could do this would be to speed up the equitising process of the SOEs. And only special SOEs will remain, for example, those related to national defence and security or economic security. However, this process takes place very slowly.

At a house meeting of the previous 11th National Assembly, deputies unanimously set a deadline of 2014 by which the SOEs restructuring process must be completed.

However, by now the deadline seems to have been missed, as the process is taking place at a snail's space.

In addition, in my opinion, the minimal implementation process should also be blamed on the SCIC - the State Capital Investment Corporation.

In your opinion, what are the main factors leading to such a slow implementation process?

I think the problem here lies with the unclear role of the SOEs. Though our government policy has stated clearly that SOEs hold a "pivotal position" in the "State economy," this means it covers a wide range, including natural resources and the State budget.

This is not in tandem with the meaning of the phrase SOEs. The State has reserved the best for them, including capital, natural resources and business opportunities, regardless of their performance. This policy is totally contrary to the principle of a "market economy."

That's not all, the point of view that "the State economy holds a pivotal role" has been interpreted to be "that SOEs hold a pivotal role." The SOEs, themselves, don't want to be weaned from the "State breast milk."

In addition, the ones who makes decisions to provide capital, the rights to extract the nation's mineral resources, the business opportunities and others do not want to give up their power to "make such decisions."

In other words, to reign in corruption, we must eliminate the mechanism "ask and give."

More recently, Bui Quang Vinh, Minister of Planning and Investment, strongly protested against the "ask and give" mechanism. How do you respond to his declaration?

I very much appreciate his decision. Some people have described his statement as "he injures his feet with a stone by himself."

However, Vinh said, for the good of the nation he would do his best to put a halt to the "ask and give" mechanism.

I understand, that mechanism has been deeply rooted in the thinking of many people. So it is not easy to erase!

Do we need to adopt tough measures to push back the corruption epidemic?

In practice, none of the countries in the world can eliminate corruption. But in countries with good law enforcement, corruption cases are not as rampant as in our country. It is an irony, our scientists have to deliver bribes so they can perform research!

Some people say to fight corruption, it is imperative to create a mechanism of "three no's" – cannot, dare not and no need for corruption.

If such a mechanism is in place in a society which is ruled by law - in its true sense, corruption will be restrained to the maximum.

And what's more important, the government can ensure that wage earners can live on their legitimate salaries. — VNS


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