HA NOI (VNS) — Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc yesterday said tackling corruption is imperative to retaining the confidence of development donors and being competitive in the global economy.
|The dialogue was co-organised by the Government Inspectorate of Viet Nam, the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the British Embassy in Viet Nam and the DFID.— VNA/VNS Photo An Dang
Addressing the 12th dialogue on anti-corruption "The role of business and private sector in fighting corruption in Viet Nam", attended by the Government representatives, donors and development partners, Phuc said that the country prioritised anti-corruption efforts.
A Government Inspectorate survey with a sample of 832 individuals and 232 enterprises in Hai Phong, Vinh Phuc, Da Nang, HCM City and Binh Duong showed:
- 37 per cent of respondents said it was very popular for enterprises to pay small bribes to cope with harassment and extort public officials or public entities.
- 70 per cent of enterprises were actively engaged in bribery while the remaining 30 per cent only gave bribes when prompted by public officials.
- 81 per cent of enterprises believed corruption wasted time and resources.
- Nearly 70 per cent believed bribery and corruption was the biggest threat to the long-term development.
Last year, the National Assembly approved a revised law on anti-corruption with the establishment of the National Steering Committee for Prevention and Fighting Corruption, headed by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
However, at present, Viet Nam's current anti-corruption law mostly targeted State officials, employees or those assigned to manage State's capital and asset.
There are few regulations addressing the corruption among private sector while actually, businesses were often both victims and perpetrators of corruption, Phuc said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that drastic measures to prevent and detect acts of corruption were needed alongside strict punishments for businesses who resorted to bribery to gain unfair advantage.
Phuc also emphasised the importance of building an ethical and transparent corporate culture, backed by sound corporate governance and internal controls.
"Viet Nam expects and will try its best to ensure businesses - both domestic and foreign - comply with laws and act with integrity," he said.
Inspector General of the Government Inspectorate Huynh Phong Tranh said corruption in businesses increased costs, undermined business governance and created an unfair playing field.
"The problem becomes more serious when corruption and bribery are commited between businesses and depraved officials, creating "interest groups" which distort the implementation and effects of policies," he said.
"In an effort to integrate with the global economy, Viet Nam has been strengthening its legal framework on anti-corruption in business," he said, noting that Prime Ministerial approval had been given to bring corporate governance laws in line with international standards.
The Inspector General also confirmed the Justice Ministry was contemplating extending the scope of anti-corruption law to the private sector; as well criminalising "illicit enrichment behaviour" in the coming revision of the Criminal Code.
British Ambassador to Viet Nam Antony Stokes said that corruption would deteriorate the health of Viet Nam's economy and that a joint effort between businesses was necessary to fight corruption.
Representatives from Viet Nam's other development partners, including the World Bank, Sweden and New Zealand also urged for better law enforcement, law reform and simpler administrative procedures.
"Consultation with the business community showed that corruption was considered a normal part of doing business in Viet Nam; occurring not only in transactions between business and government but also between businesses."
This statement was made by Nguyen Thi Kim Lien, a governance adviser from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). She added that corruption-prone areas included customs, tax, procurement and licensing.
Among factors blamed for endemic corruption, included a lack of transparent procedures, high levels of discretion for public officials, inadequate legal provisions, sub-standard law enforcement and the absence of a proper whistle blowing mechanism.
Meanwhile, companies cited inadequate legal knowledge, weak corporate compliance and a lack of collective efforts among businesses for corruption trends.
The dialogue was co-organised by the Government Inspectorate of Viet Nam, the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the British Embassy in Viet Nam and the DFID. — VNS