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Lao Inspection Reveals 1,002 Cases of Corruption in 2018

Source: Vientiane Times

As many as 1,225 state investment projects have been implemented unlawfully over the past years, the Government Inspection Authority (GIA) reported this week.

In 2017, the State Auditing Organisation (SAO) recommended GIA to inspect the projects after learning of irregularities.

They included unapproved projects, projects that did not undergo a bidding process and those whose tendering did not follow the right procedures as well as those projects without assessment and projects categorised in the ‘f’ grade deemed as poor quality.

As of 2018, some 678 projects have been completely inspected and 547 projects remained unchecked, according to the report presented at a meeting between the GIA and SAO on Tuesday.

Deputy Prime Minister and President of the GIA, Dr Bounthong Chitmany chaired the meeting, with President of the SAO, Dr Vienthong Siphandone and relevant officials attending.

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The participants heard that many of the reported projects were infrastructure development projects.

According to GIA, the inspection found that some projects were implemented without undertaking a survey and design. The projects were unapproved by the relevant departments. Though some were approved, the approval processes were just staged. 

Some projects were carried out without undertaking proper assessment as to whether they really needed to be developed. Payment for some projects upon their completion was duplicated. Construction of several projects was reported as fully completed but actually was not. Work on some projects was cutback but investment cost remained unchanged. Worse, poor quality standards were applied to the construction of many projects resulting in infrastructure becoming damaged before the defined period. Moreover, investment costs for many projects were unreasonably high.

“Many projects were implemented without transparent practices,” GIA said, adding that all these issues have caused huge losses.

All these issues have happened due to state officials in charge of the projects and those in relevant sectors as well as consultant companies conspiring for personal gain. The officials helped contracting companies hide the truth and did not report the facts to higher authorities, according to GIA.

The inspection has enabled the government to save thousands of billions of kip and GIA pledged to carry out further inspection into the remaining projects and targets. Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong told local media on Monday that the government could save more than 3.5 trillion kip (almost US$419 million) from overvalued projects within the sector following inspections by relevant authorities. The excess costs were discovered during the inspection of 18 projects in 2017 and 12 projects inspected during the first 10 months of 2018.