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‘Collective action' can curtail corruption

Update: October, 25/2013 - 08:33

A laboratory at the HCM City High-Tech Park's Integrated Circuit Design Research and Education Centre. The park has signed MOUs with 13 businesses concerning alignment with legal regulations. — VNA/VNS Photo The Anh

HCM CITY (VNS) — Collective action is one of the solutions that can be applied to fighting corruption in Viet Nam, experts said at a workshop yesterday.

Nguyen Thi Kim Lien, Governance Adviser with the Department for International Development (DFID Viet Nam, the UK government funded aid organisation), explained that collective action is a "collaborative and sustained process of co-operation among stakeholders" that would "increase the impact and credibility of individual action."

It would also level the playing field among competitors and complement implementation of local laws and anti-corruption practices, she said.

Collective action can prove effective in that it can deal with the "supply side" of bribery, she said, adding that it can also be implemented without the need for legal and administrative reforms.

Forms of collective action could be "principle-based initiatives that engage various stakeholders to promote transparent business conduct, or certifying a business coalition that monitors and certifies compliance of their members with core shared principles against corruption, Lien said.

Integrity pacts – formal contracts that are externally monitored and help increase transparency in projects – can also be a form of collective action, she added.

She cited Saigon High-tech Park (SHTP) integrity pledge with Intel in 2011 as an example.

While the method brings the benefits of fair competition, protection from legal penalties, cost savings, enhanced reputation, and ethical and responsible behaviour of employees and competitors, it also needs consensus to succeed, Lien noted.

Other conditions include the willingness of companies to take part and play by the rules, persistence, and multi-stakeholder engagement, she added.

Le Thanh Nguyen, director of SHTP's Business Incubator Division, said the park has signed MOUs with 13 businesses including Intel Products Vietnam, DGS Electronics Co Ltd and FPT Software HCM City Co Ltd, on "commitment to business ethics and code of procedures to align with regulations."

Nguyen said the action has helped SHTP to gain satisfaction and trust from business, create an "echo value" about a healthy investment environment for businesses and create a critical change in positive perceptions as well as behaviors of civil officers and staff.

The Government should provide the right incentives for fighting corruption, said Helge Schroder, an expert with CleanGovBiz, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

It should ensure an enabling business environment and strengthen public-private dialogue on integrity, he added.

The 12th anti-corruption dilogue was organised by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Government Inspectorate of Viet Nam, and the British Embassy in Ha Noi. — VNS

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