Vietnam is under growing pressure to take measures to address corruption in the private sector, according to Catherine Phuong, assistant resident representative of UNDP Vietnam.
|Overview of the forum. Source: Ngoc Thuy.
“Foreign countries are enhancing enforcement of anti-bribery legislation, resulting in rigorous implementation of corporate compliance programs in their daily operations in emerging markets, including Vietnam,” said Phuong at a forum discussing corruption in non-state business and organizations on December 12.
Phuong referred to the Vietnam Provincial Competitiveness Index (CPI) 2018 that showed more than half of the companies surveyed said they pay “informal charges”.
|Catherine Phuong, assistant resident representative of UNDP Vietnam.
According to Phuong, poor governance and corrupt practices represent a threat to sustained economic and social development not only in Vietnam but across the ASEAN region.
“Corruption has been consistently cited as the single most important obstacle to doing business in the region because it increases the cost of doing business, distorts the competitive environment, limits opportunities for investment and widens the growing social inequality,” Phuong added.
Deputy Inspector General Tran Ngoc Liem of the Government Inspectorate of Vietnam echoed Phuong’s view that corruption is posing negative impacts on all aspects in the country, including the business activities and the environment.
Lien added the 2018 Anti-corruption Law, which came into effect on July 1, 2019, now expands its scope to non-state sectors.
|Deputy Inspector General Tran Ngoc Liem of Government Inspectorate of Vietnam.
On this issue, Phuong from UNDP said the introduction of the law “demonstrated the intention of the Vietnamese Government to combat corruption in all areas and implement the requirements of the UN Convention against corruption.”
The implementation of the law requires strong efforts not only on the part of the government, but of the companies. “Companies should play an active role, in both complying with the laws and regulations, and ensuring that their business practices promote the values of fairness, inclusiveness, integrity, transparency, and accountability”, Phuong asserted.
Phuong stressed engagement of a variety of stakeholders in anti-corruption efforts, promoting the inclusion of civil society and community monitors, as well as business representatives, is important, while it is essential for the government to make sure the Anti-corruption Law is effectively implemented.
“Effective implementation of the 2018 Anti-Corruption Law, especially the new legal provisions on anti-corruption in the non-state sector, is key for the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs by 2030,” Phuong stressed.
At the forum, Secretary General of Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Nguyen Quang Vinh said this is a global issue, citing an OECD study in 2015 that the cost of corruption equals US$2.6 trillion, or more than 5% of global GDP.
Meanwhile, the World Bank estimated there was some US$1 trillion in bribes alone in developed and developing countries, Vinh added.
To combat corruption, Vinh said it is vital to raise awareness among the business community, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs).