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 in Ho Chi Minh City on March 29.

Tran Thi Lan Huong of the World Bank (WB) 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 Government Inspectorate and the Anti-Corruption Steering Committee, and carried out with assistance from the WB and other institutions, about 44 percent of respondent firms admitted to making unofficial payments.

About 59 percent said they sometimes reacted to difficulties by giving gifts or money. More than 75 percent 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 are willing to pay up or wait for the Government to help.

Increasing transparency is crucial to effectively fighting corruption, said participants at the roundtable, co-organised by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the World Bank
They also said companies and firms 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 cooperate 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.

Speaker at the roundtable stressed the importance of fighting corruption, which they said has 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.-VNA