06:22 (GMT +7) - Friday 27/11/2020

Vietnam Today

Greater need for managing public sector conflict of interest

Released at: 20:07, 10/11/2016

Greater need for managing public sector conflict of interest

Photo: The Kha

Report from Government Inspectorate and World Bank studies prevalence of conflict of interest in government institutions.

by Quynh Nguyen

Nearly 70 per cent of public servants in Vietnam believe that the exchange of gifts is to stay on good terms with their bosses while enterprises believe it is to facilitate their businesses endeavors, according to a report entitled “Managing Conflicts of Interest in the Public Sector - Law and Practice in Vietnam”, a joint effort by the Government Inspectorate and the World Bank and released on November 9.

Both public servants and enterprises agree that giving gifts has become “customary” and even “a rule of the game”. “Enterprises give gifts in order to avoid any ‘discrimination’, while public servants give gifts to bosses to be ‘nice’ to them,” the report stated.

There are four common form of conflicts of interest in Vietnam, the report noted: gift-giving/receiving (cash and non-cash), interest-sharing investments, inside information for personal gain, and making decisions in favor of family members.

Vietnam has made great progress in socioeconomic development over the last three decades and the transition from a centrally-planned economy to a socialist-oriented market economy furthered interactions between the public and private sectors, making it necessary to address the growing likelihood of conflicts of interest with better laws and the stronger implementation of policies.

Vietnam can improve public sector integrity and efficiency by strengthening laws and policies addressing prevalent forms of conflict of interest, such as gift given and taking, nepotism, and using insider information for personal gain, the authors of the report wrote. 

“This study is the first attempt to put conflict of interest issues into perspective in Vietnam,” said Deputy Inspector General of the Government Inspectorate Nguyen Van Thanh. “The ultimate objective of the study is to recommend measures for the government and relevant stakeholders to be aware of and minimize conflict of interest situations encountered by public servants in their work, improve the institutional quality of the public sector, and better prevent corruption.”

The report found limited understanding of conflict of interest in Vietnamese society and among public officials, and that various forms of conflict of interest in the public sector are becoming rules of the game and can undermine the effectiveness and integrity of public institutions.

“Vietnam aspires to become a prosperous country with modern institutions by 2035,” said Mr. Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “Managing conflict of interest is essential to this aspiration, as it helps determine how State and market institutions and rules and regulations are shaped for the next generation.”

The 144-page report offers a comprehensive examination of the prevalence of conflict of interest in six types of activities in the public sector: public service delivery, recruitment, procurement, licensing and project approval, inspection and auditing, and handling of violations.

It was based on a survey of citizens, businesses and government workers and showed an increasing societal demand for more effectiveness, transparency and integrity in public institutions that allocate resources.

“Managing conflict of interest effectively will not only help improve the efficiency of public-resource allocation but also strengthen integrity and prevent corruption in the public sector,” said H.E. Giles Lever, UK Ambassador to Vietnam. “I hope that Vietnam will give consideration to introducing institutional reform measures in this area.”  

User comment (0)

Send comment