Vietnam officials manipulate firms to get bribes

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Many private businesses in Vietnam admitted to making bribes to government agencies to ease red tape, according to two studies released recently.

A survey by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) of 8,177 private businesses found that more than half of them had paid bribes to speed up procedures.

The other survey, by the World Bank and state inspectors of 1,058 businesses, found 63 percent of them saying government officials deliberately caused them trouble by making procedures lengthy and 58 percent saying they did not provide clear instructions and were being finicky about documents.

Dau Anh Tuan, who is in charge of legal affairs at the VCCI, said the key to the corruption is the cumbersome legal system with its low transparency, and the unclear assignment of responsibilities between government agencies.

"Everyone would ask questions and make demands, but no one would admit to being in charge," he lamented at a conference organized by the VCCI and World Bank.

Businesses were left grappling with red tape, regulations, and fees, and many of them just ended up paying bribes to "lubricate" things, he said.

Deepak Mishra, a World Bank economist, said the economic slowdown has brought more trouble with procedures, especially for getting an investment permit.

In case of trouble many businesses did not hesitate to bribe to fix it, and did not even know it was illegal, he added.

His colleague, James Anderson, said businesses believed bribery would facilitate their work, making government officials believe it is very easy to get bribes, thus growing the circle of corruption.

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