Vietnam firms aid corruption with unsolicited bribes

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Seventy-five percent of businesses in Vietnam pay bribes to  government agencies on their own volition in order to avoid being stuck in red tape, a World Bank specialist says.

At an anti-corruption conference held in Hanoi Thursday, Soren Davidsen said that sixty-three percent of firms questioned in a survey said they paid the "unofficial fees" to speed up procedures.

Firms were facilitating corruption with such behavior, he said.

The Saigon Times newspaper quoted lawyer Trinh Trong Tien as saying corruption would continue to flourish in Vietnam as long as firms chose to pay bribes rather than equip themselves with knowledge of law and understand their rights.

Analysts at the conference urged businesses to cooperate with one another in tackling corruption.

Helge Schroder, a specialist from the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation and Development, said firms should be proactive in the corruption fight if they want lower input costs and a competitive environment to operate in.

According a the survey conducted by the World Bank and the Government Inspectorate last December , businesses felt that corruption had gotten worse since 2005.

Sixty-six percent of the respondents, up 21 points from 2005, said officials gave them unclear instructions to cause them trouble.

The ratio of firms who complained that officials made use of inconsistent regulations to put difficulties in their way and provide them with threatening guidance increased by 15 points and 7 points to 54 percent and 23 percent respectively.

Tax authorities received the largest amount bribes, followed by customs and transportation officials, the survey found.

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