Phạm Trọng Đạt, director of the Office of the Government Inspectorate, discusses key measures for verifying asset declarations by senior government officials with Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.
What are your thoughts on the report by the National Assembly’s Judicial Committee saying that only petty corruption cases have been detected and not big cases?
It’s reality in our country. It is easy to see that grass roots levels, everyone knows everyone, so when something odd happens, it is detected immediately. But at provincial or city level, things are different, the number of cases detected by the people drops. For example, a project funded by the central government in a locality, it is impossible for local people to monitor the project’s funding disbursement. However, for a small project in a village or community, the construction of a road or a school, locals will be informed about the project funding and its construction schedule.
Should we mobilise the public to help detect corruption at a higher level?
We should. The idea was reflected in the Party’s political programme, which says “the people know, discuss, do and monitor”. Of course, in order to do that, things must be transparent. I’m sure that the good practice of information disclosure and accountability will help us avert corruption.
Do you support the proposal that from next year only senior government officials will have to make annual asset declarations?
With experience inside and outside Viêt Nam, how many people make their annual asset declarations is not important. What’s the most important is the quality of the declarations and the monitoring system. If their declarations are kept in a safe, they become pieces of waste paper.
In my opinion, we must have action plans to monitor and manage asset declarations. Only by doing so can we ask all senior government officials to make their annual asset declarations.
How should we revise the Anti-corruption Law?
In my opinion, we should raise the idea that all family members of senior government officials have to make asset declarations. This is because many government officials say that the houses they are living in belong to their siblings, as well as other valuable assets. That’s why in the upcoming revision of the law, I’ll ask the law drafting committee to take this point into consideration.
Should we define appointing unqualified people in certain positions as an act of embezzlement or corruption?
I can’t say that the act should be condemned as an act of embezzlement or corruption. However, all the cases that have been reflected in the media “are claimed to be in line with procedures”. This is a very vague and irresponsible answer. As a matter of fact, the word procedure used in the promotion process covers a wide meaning ranging from the selection of people to become a leader and that people must have certain qualifications. In such a case, only the leader who signs the promotion decision knows if the promotion process is transparent and accountable or not.
However, I think that in the next revision of the law we should include a provision on the responsibility of the head of the office in appointing new subordinate leaders in their office.
Do you think we should include a provision in the revised law that the head of an office is not allowed to appoint relatives to a high position in his or her office?
The idea is already written in the present anti-corruption law. I think the idea should also be reflected in the Party’s documents. Personnel work must be legalised in both national laws and in the Party’s documents to make them all in line. — VNS