HA NOI (VNS)— The role of the people and civil society in the fight against corruption needed to be increased, while more must be done at local level, State officials and international experts declared at the 11th Dialogue on Anti-corruption held in Ha Noi yesterday.
According to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index statistics released on Wednesday, Viet Nam is ranked the 123rd nation out of a total of 176 and received a mark of 31 points out of 100 (0 indicates extreme corruption and 100 indicates high transparency) in regards to corruption.
Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, Viet Nam's position was higher than Laos (ranked 160), Myanmar (172) and Cambodia (157), but much lower than Malaysia (54), Thailand (88) and the Philippines (105).
Singapore was the only nation in Southeast Asia to be ranked among the top 10 (it was ranked 5th) while overall, Denmark, Finland and New Zealand topped the list. — VNS
The dialogue, which focused on the practices and solutions to anti-corruption at local Government level, was organised by the Government Inspectorate and the Central Anti-Corruption Steering Committee's Office in co-operation with the British Embassy.
Present at the discussions were senior State officials from many countries and representatives from international organisations and local Vietnamese governments.
Renwick Irvine, a governance advisor at the UK's Department for International Development pointed out that the role played by citizens has been mainly ignored in past discussions and a radical re-think of oversight work was needed.
He said that the roles of the local People's Councils and the Fatherland Front in the fight against corruption in Viet Nam needed to be augmented. Antony Stokes, British Ambassador to Viet Nam said that while the corruption situation in the country remained very serious, there had been encouraging improvements in 2012, most notably the revision of legislation.
Stokes called for more empowerment of the press and citizens in the fight against corruption, which mirrored the opinions of many other attendees.
Huynh Phong Tranh, Government Inspector General, pointed out that the number of corruption cases detected and handled was less than the actual figure, and that the time taken to process these cases was still prolonged.
A report by the Central Anti-Corruption Steering Committee shows that at local level from 2007-12 corruption was still a considerable problem, most notably in the areas of natural resources exploitation and mining licensing, project investment and construction.
The report also reveals that during the past five years, nearly 680 senior State officials (chairmen and deputy heads) were punished for their irresponsibility, which allowed corruption to occur. Nearly 600 were disciplined, while 100 faced criminal sanctions.
A survey conducted by the Government Inspectorate from September to November 2012 in 42 cities and provinces reveals that local People's Committees have failed to organise effective supervision activities on a regular basis.
During the 2011-12 period, nobody was removed from their positions by the provincial People's Committees and 70 per cent of deputies from People's Committees gave average and bellow average assessments to the implementation of anti-corruption supervision.
Yesterday's talks also addressed the latest efforts made by the Government in dealing with the issue.
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc cited the revision of the Anti-corruption Law with its 20 changed provisions as a notable recent effort by the Government.
He also said the regulation forcing senior State officials to declare their assets was a step in the right direction, and the structure of the anti-corruption system was still being discussed as different opinions had been raised.
Phuc also said the recent Resolution on confidence votes for State leaders, which gave the National Assembly and local-level People's Councils the right to declare a vote of confidence to decide the future of officials, would help raise the power and effectiveness of supervision by the people and public-voted units.
He added that the Resolution would put emphasis on the capacity of State leaders and senior officials.
He said the Government's determination and actions were more important in the fight against corruption than legal institutions.
According to a senior official from northern Quang Ninh Province, corruption in his area occurred mostly in the fields of land and natural resources management and construction bidding in the province. Other officials agreed with his assessment.
He stressed that raising the incomes of State officials was the key solution to reducing corruption and suggested that savings made to administration spending might be used to help raise this income.
He said Quang Ninh was implementing e-Government and developing public administration service centres to reduce transactions handled by individual staff.
The Province is also recruiting senior officials by conducting advertised examinations to encourage talented people to seek jobs, ensuring the capacity of people in leadership. — VNS