Nov 24, 2012

Vietnam - Corruption most popular in traffic, land management

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HANOI – Traffic policing, land management, customs and construction top the list of areas where corruption takes place most commonly, according to a survey done by the Government Inspectorate and the World Bank (WB).

Results of the survey named “Corruption from the perspective of citizens, firms and public officials” were announced at a press conference in Hanoi on Tuesday.

Although there have been many surveys on corruption in Vietnam, this is the first time since the Anti-Corruption Law was introduced in 2005 that a sociological survey on this issue have been conducted.

The survey was carried out in ten cities and provinces, interviewing over 2,600 citizens, 1,000 businesses and 1,800 public officials from five ministries, including the ministries said to have high chance of corruption, such as the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The scale of the survey, therefore, could be seen as fairly representative.

When asked to name the top three displeasing issues in Vietnam at present, over one-third of the surveyed citizens chose corruption as their biggest displeasure, followed by prices and traffic accidents. Meanwhile, corruption is the second biggest displeasure to enterprises after prices, says a report on the survey results.

The answer of enterprises is not surprising as they have been badly hit by inflation while having to deal with corruption. State officials even described corruption as a national vice, said the Government Inspectorate.

Over 82% of the citizens interviewed said corruption was widespread in the country. More than 75% of the respondents considered corruption a serious problem.

Around 45% of State employees said they had witnessed corrupt practices, while 44% of enterprises and 28% of citizens said they had to pay unofficial fees.

Although fewer cases of corruption have been detected, it does not mean the evil has been reduced. Rather, “it means this practice has become more complicated and sophisticated, and better hidden, not that it has lessened,” according to the report.

The main causes of corruption, according to the respondents, are light-handed sanctions against corruption, moral degradation among State officials, ask-give mechanism and cumbersome administrative procedures.

Speaking at the press conference, Victoria Kwakwa, WB country director for Vietnam, said: “The survey has shed a ray of light on corruption in Vietnam.”

However, Deputy Inspector General Tran Duc Luong of the Government Inspectorate said the survey did not reflect the opinions of all people, businesses and public officials.

“The survey (results) did not reflect opinions of State agencies,” he said.

The survey indicates traffic police, land management, customs and construction are the areas with the most corruption. On the contrary, corruption rarely occurs in the fields of post offices, media organizations, treasury offices and grassroots police.

Enterprises considered the difficulties caused by State agencies while they underwent administrative procedures as a form of corruption. Some 70% of the businesses surveyed said they had offered to pay informal fees, while the remainder was asked to do so.

Market management authorities top the list of agencies asking for informal fees, followed by traffic police, economic police, and environment management agencies.

About 60% of the businesses replied unofficial fees were high, but over 50% admitted the benefits that such fees provided were great.

Some 63% of the corporate respondents said State officials had prolonged the process on purpose. As a result, many of them had to give bribes for their convenience.

The role of the media is highly appreciated as 80% of the businesses and public officials surveyed said the media had detected corrupt practices before the authorities did. Over 8% said the media pressure had prevented corruption cases from sinking into oblivion.

Lan Nhi and Tu Hoang - The Saigon Times Daily

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