Assets disclosure ineffective in fighting corruption

The National Assembly’s Judicial Committee urged the Government to complete mechanisms and regulations to monitor citizens’ income, especially public servants with a focus on improving transparency and accountability.

The National Assembly’s Judicial Committee urged the Government to complete mechanisms and regulations to monitor citizens’ income, especially public servants with a focus on improving transparency and accountability.- VNA/VNS Photo

This recommendation was among many suggestions made by NA deputies to fight rampant corruption in Việt Nam during the NA meeting yesterday in Hà Nội.

Chairwoman of the committee Lê Thị Nga said while the number of public servants who reported their assets in 2017 was large, few were properly reviewed.

Of the more than 1.1 million asset disclosure forms only 77 were checked, Nga cited a committee report, making asset disclosures largely ineffective as a counter-corruption measure. The report also recommended that disciplinary measures be taken against those who lie or hide their assets.

On the other hand, she said the fact that several high-profile corruption cases have been investigated in recent years highlighted the Government’s efforts in the fight on corruption.

Minister of public security Tô Lâm said criminal activities are getting more complex with criminal syndicates and interest groups working under the disguise of businesses, sometimes with the help of corrupt public servants, making investigation a challenge for law enforcement forces.

During 2017, 854 cases were investigated with nearly 1,500 individuals prosecuted for corruption crimes and misuse of power, some 20 per cent more than in 2016, according to a report presented to the NA by Lâm.

The judicial committee, however, mentioned several shortcomings in the fight against corruption. Nga said the committee’s view is that the number of cases being investigated is only a fraction of corruption cases, asset recovery was ineffective and in several instances, criminals were able to flee.

She stressed the importance of transparency when hiring and promoting public servants. She cited a number of instances in which nepotism resulted in unqualified and incompetent officials being promoted to important posts, sparking public outrage and undermining efforts to fight corruption.

The committee advised the Government to severely punish those in charge of corrupted officials and mismanaged offices to reflect the losses they cause to society.

Disciplinary actions were taken against only 39 heads of offices where corruption was revealed in 2017, according to a Government report.

Assets recovery

In the afternoon session, NA deputies discussed problems that hinder the country’s ability to prevent and fight corruption.

Deputy Mai Thị Phương Hoa, a permanent member of the NA’s judicial committee said that while asset recovery is crucial in the fight against corruption, the recovery rate is low.

In a ten-year report submitted to the committee, the damage caused by corruption was estimated to exceed US$2.6 billions and 400 hectares of land. Of which, only 7.82 per cent of the money and 54.7 per cent of the land were recovered.

“Asset recovery is an important measure of how effective our fight against corruption is. It’s also a top priority to recover from the damage it caused to country and society,” she said.

Deputy Nguyễn Văn Hiển urged the government to step up its efforts to recover assets. He cited two major cases: Vinashin and Vinalines in which only a fraction of the damage, which was estimated to be millions of dollars, were recovered.

“Law enforcement offices must make it a top priority to recover as much as possible,” Hiển said.

They also questioned the country’s audit and inspectorate offices responsbility for their failure to detect wrongdoings in economic enterprises and failure to report unusually high-value assets that belong to government officials.

Deputies also called for law enforcement agencies to take decisive, timely steps to monitor the flow of assets during investigations to stop corrupted officials from moving illegal gains. While on the topic, they stressed the importance of making investments in infrastructure to limit the use of cash in society to help prevent crimes such as tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.  

On judicial reform, deputies raised questions in regards to the country’s justice system.

Instead of being a symbol of justice, deputies said wrongful convictions in recent years, incompetent judges and slow responses from judicial offices have hurt the People’s Court reputation.

They called for the Government to take steps to improve the competence of justice officials, to invest in local facilities and judicial processes to restore the people’s faith in the court.

Source VNA