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Vietnam Promises Action on Corruption

By Dezan Shira & Associates
Posted: 16th May 2014 11:01
HANOI – In a May 5th speech to the National Convention on Anti-Corruption, Vietnam’s Party General Secretary, Nguyen Phu Trong, strongly pushed for greater action to be taken in the fight against corruption.
Mr. Trong stated that, despite previous work done to fix the problem, “corruption is still a challenge and is one of the most pressing issues in society.”

The fight against corruption in Vietnam has been ongoing for some time.  In 2013, the government passed Party Central Committee Resolution 4 (term XI), which aimed to combat corruption and waste. While the government has announced that there have been a number of positive moves forward in its fight, it also acknowledged that there is much more work to be done.  According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Vietnam ranks 116 out of 175 countries in terms of corruption.  Afghanistan ranked the worst at position 175; Denmark was the least corrupt country.

The government has been increasingly handing down harsh penalties, including the death penalty, for those caught in corrupt practices.  However, the general public still feels that corruption is high in the country.
Elsewhere during his speech, the Party Chief outlined five important missions that urgently need to be accomplished; these were:

 - The Party’s regulations system has to be completed and legal mechanisms and policies on socio-economic management have to be supplemented and amended to fight against corruption effectively;
 - Intensify education and awareness campaigns to raise the responsibility of all relevant ministries and agencies and each Party member and the people in combating corruption;
 - Clarify the responsibilities of Party committees at all levels, and improve leadership, combat capacity and the vanguard role of the Party and each Party member in anti-corruption;
 - Closer cooperation between anti-corruption agencies to deal with corruption activities, especially big cases; and
 - Strengthening supervision work in the Party, the whole political and social system, and increasing the role of the supervision work of the people in the fight against corruption.

Importantly, Mr. Trong called for greater transparency and stricter regulations on the assets and incomes of public servants.

A recent high profile corruption case involved the arrests of four officials who worked at the government-run Vietnam Railways.  According to government reports, in 2013 there were 278 corruption trials, and the state inspectorate discovered at least 80 new fraud cases involving state funds.  However, the government has not released statistics for any other years, so it is difficult to measure progress. Additionally, in 2013, the heads of 69 government agencies were found guilty of corruption and were punished accordingly.

The government has spoken strongly in the past about its desire to stamp out corruption but little change has occurred. But now that the country is under a greater spotlight due to its participation in the ASEAN grouping and its ongoing negotiations for large free trade agreements, such as the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, perhaps 2014 is the year that things really start to change in Vietnam.
This article was first published on Vietnam Briefing.
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