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Thayer Vietnam Corruption Barometer

Thayer Vietnam Corruption Barometer

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Published by Carlyle Alan Thayer
An analysis of Vietnamese responses reported in the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer.
An analysis of Vietnamese responses reported in the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer.

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Published by: Carlyle Alan Thayer on Aug 17, 2013
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Background Briefing:Vietnam Corruption BarometerCarlyle A. ThayerJuly 10, 2013
[client name deleted]Towards Transparency justreleased the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer and thereport specifically focuses on views and experiences of Vietnamese citizens. Here isthe link to the report: www.towardstransparency.vn/gcb.  We request your assessment of the following issues:Q1. What do you make of the key findings of the report?ANSWER: The key findings of the
2013 Global Corruption Barometer 
report confirmthat public perceptions of corruption in Vietnam have become more negative overthe last two years and the government
s efforts to eliminate corruption have provedlargely ineffective especially among the urban population. What the report does nottell us is how significant public perceptions of corruption are compared to othersocial issues such as inflation, drug use, human trafficking, fake goods etc. It shouldbe recalled that senior party officials identified corruption as a major threat to theVietnam Communist Party on the eve of the tenth party congress. During the periodreviewed by the Report the control of the Anti-Corruption Steering Committeepassed from the Government to the party. This Report should be instrumental insetting priorities in the campaign to end corruption.
Q2. According to the report, only 24% of respondents perceive government anti-corruption efforts to be effective. In contrast, 38% of respondents consider anti-corruption efforts to be ineffective or very ineffective. Furthermore, the findingssuggest a considerable loss of trust by urban respondents in Government anti-corruption efforts over time, with respondents in 2013 indicating a far more negativeview.
Why has the public trust in the government’s anti
-corruption efforts been onthe wane?ANSWER: Reporting on corruption in Vietnam is now much more widespreadincluding both the official press and on the Internet by bloggers. There is greaterpublic awareness of the issues, especially large-scale corruption cases such asVinashin and Vinalines. A second factor is likely to be the downturn in the economycoupled with inflation. This suggests that government officials on fixed salaries areaccepting bribes in order to make ends meet.
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123
Q3. The police, medical and health services and land services were found to have thehighest incidence of reported experiences of corruption. Once again, a majority of respondents (90 percent) who reported paying a bribe to the police noted that theirlast bribe was paid to the traffic police. What do you make of these findings?
ANSWER: The police are one of the most important daily interfaces between thepublic and the state. The police, like other public servants, are on fixed wages. They
too need to accept ‘gifts’ and bribes in order to survive in a difficult economic
climate. Besides, there is a legacy of corruption by traffic police that creates theenvironment for further corruption.
Q4. Sixth per cent of Vietnamese respondents believe that ordinary people can makea difference in the fight against corruption. However, when comparing these figuresto responses in neighboring countries, Vietnamese respondents are actually themost pessimistic concerning their ability to effect change. On average, 76% of respondents from Southeast Asia believe that ordinary people can make adifference. What accounts for such pessimism?
ANSWER: The Vietnamese political system mobilizes the people for all sorts of issues.Millions belong to mass organizations under the Vietnam Fatherland Front. Vietnamalso has a system of letters of denunciation and a degree of tolerance. aggrievedcitizens are permitted to stand in public with placards drawing attention to theircomplaints. Vietnam is still a developing country. While Vietnam encourages thepeople to voice their grievances, Vietnam also lacks effective independent andautonomous institutions found in other Southeast Asian countries that can take uppublic complaints of corruption on behalf of the people. Vietnamese people paybribes largely to speed up the process in order to resolve an outstanding matter. Butlittle progress has been made in reducing pervasive corruption by key institutionssuch as the police, judiciary, and land services.5. According to the report, Vietnamese respondents are less likely to refuse paying abribe than their peers in other Southeast Asian countries. Only 27% of Vietnameserespondents who had been asked for a bribe had ever refused to pay the bribe,strikingly fewer than any other country surveyed in the region. In contrast, 71% of Indonesian respondents had ever reported refusing to pay a bribe and between 41-52% of respondents from Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have allrefused to pay a bribe. Is it fair to say that the practice of offering and receivingunder-the-table money has become an entrenched norm in Vietnam? How would
that have a bearing on the country’s socio
-economic development and on foreigncompanies doing business here in Vietnam?
ANSWER: Vietnamese pay a bribe because it expedites whatever matter they areconcerned with. In this sense paying bribes has become entrenched in societalnorms.The Global Corruption Barometer did not address corruption involving foreignersdoing business in Vietnam. Some foreign countries have laws making it illegal to paybribes. Other countries do not have such laws and their businessmen presumablygive gifts and facilitation payments to advance their business interests. Corruption of this nature increases transaction costs and make doing business more expensive.Corruption distorts market forces and makes the economy less efficient.

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