Vietnam study finds unofficial earnings at gov't offices

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A study by Vietnamese government inspectors has found that many government officials earn income from "unofficial" sources. 

Results from the 2012 study, undertaken with the cooperation of the World Bank and released at a recent meeting, showed that the incomes of people with government rankings and power was on the increase, thanks to "various sources," Tuoi Tre reported Sunday.

Out of nearly 2,000 surveyed officials from ten localities and five central government units, 79 percent were found to have other income besides salaries and official bonuses.

The unofficial money includes money leftover from projects, payments for attending meetings, gift money and others.

Among those earning extra money, more than 82 percent said those funds were less than half as much as their salaries while 11 percent said it was between 50-100 percent of their salary and the rest admitted to having earned up to five times more than their salaries.

"The results, though not representing the whole group of people with government rank and power in Vietnam, partly shows the reality of their income, that a high rate of government officials earn money besides salaries and those earnings are quite diverse," the researchers wrote in a report summarizing the study.

They suggested setting up an independent system to supervise the income of government officials.

Nguyen Huu Khien, former deputy managing director of the National Academy of Public Administration, which trains government officials, told Tuoi Tre that he agreed with stricter controls because officials' incomes should be regulated and tracked to prevent "illegal enrichment."

"The aim of controls is to stop officials from taking advantage of their rank and power to raise their income, usually in evil ways," Khien said.

He also said unofficial earnings are hard to track and could be in the form of cash, travel expenses, favorable employment and more.

He said government officials must be forced to explain how they can afford any luxury spending, such as overseas study for their children, cars or houses.

He was making reference to a recent controversy at the Hanoi Information and Communication Department.

The department's property listing showed Pham My Hoa, director of its transaction center, had in one year acquired three houses, a resort, 20,765 square meters of perennial plant gardens and two cars worth VND2 billion (US$95,600), local media reported over the weekend.

Deputy director of the department Nguyen Xuan Quang said Hoa had not been asked to explain the assets. He said Hoa was "transparent and sincere," and that others should be encouraged to be more like her.

News website VnExpress on Saturday cited Hoa as saying that the assets were earned by her husband, an official at Hanoi Department of Investment and Planning, through his private businesses.

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