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Firms must help break ‘circle of corruption'

Update: March, 30/2013 - 09:02

HCM CITY — Vietnamese firms are contributing to the vicious circle of administrative corruption in the country, but they also have the capacity to break it, participants agreed at a roundtable conference yesterday.

Tran Thi Lan Huong of the World Bank said that firms and citizens provided the incentive to keep the circle going by choosing the quickest way to solve difficulties created by officials – paying them.

In a survey commissioned by the Govenrment Inspectorate and the Anti-Corruption Steering Committee, and carried out with assistance from the World Bank and other institutions, about 44 per cent of respondent firms admitted to making unofficial payments.

About 59 per cent said they sometimes reacted to difficulties by giving gifts or money. More than 75 per cent admitted that they had paid up without being asked to do so.

"Corruption is becoming more complex. Fewer corruption cases being detected does not mean that there is less corruption but that corruption has become more sophisticated and harder to detect," Huong said.

Ngo Manh Hung, a Government Inspector, said many companies have not joined the fight against corruption because they were willing to pay up or wait for the Government to help.

Increasing transparency was crucial to fighting corruption effectively, participants of the roundtable agreed.

They also said companies and firm must become more active in fighting corruption by setting up a code of conduct for businesses, building campaigns to say no to corruption, organising events to improve knowledge of non-corrupt ways to resolve difficulties, reviewing and rotating positions that carry corruption risks, and participating in anti-corruption initiatives.

Another idea mooted at the meeting was for companies to co-operate and set up a system to fight corruption with the support of the Government.

This system has been successful in many countries including Malaysia, some participants noted.

The importance of fighting corruption was stressed at the meeting, with speakers saying it had serious negative impacts like making the country less competitive and less attractive to investors.

The survey was conducted over 18 months in 10 provinces across the country with the participation of more than 1,000 firms and companies and 2,600 citizens.

While the survey may not reflect the opinions of the whole population including citizens, firms and public officials, the results are significant and can be used to promote anti-corruption measures in the country.

The roundtable was organised by the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the World Bank. — VNS

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