Corruption remains a threat to Laos, and global development, despite the government making progress to tackle the problem, officials noted at an International Anti-Corruption Day event.
The meeting was held yesterday to mark the tenth anniversary of the United Nation’s commitment to combating corruption and was attended by Lao and international officials and anti-corruption experts.
In his address, an expert from the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, Mr Shigeuki Ito said despite the Lao government’s progress against corruption, the country is under the same threat as other developing countries.
According to the annual Corruption Perceptions Index prepared by global anti-corruption body Transparency International, Laos is currently ranked at 140 out of the 177 countries surveyed for the index, which scores countries on how corrupt their public sectors are seen to be. Last year Laos was ranked 160.
“Corruption is one of many negative phenomena having a large effect on all countries regardless of if they are small or big, developed, developing or under developed,” said Mayor of Vientiane Soukanh Mahalath at the meeting.
“Corruption is spreading widely and becoming a serious issue, harmful to sustainable development and state management by rule of law,” he said.
The Mayor highlighted the Lao government’s policy to fight against and prevent corrupt activities under the country’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and outlined the measures anti-corruption bodies at all levels are taking to stop the problem.
The measures include inspecting target groups suspected of corrupt activities such as units involved in implementing infrastructure and construction projects, revenue management and executive expenditure.
These measures target groups and individuals that could be found to practice corrupt behaviour including cheating between public organisations, government officials and contractors implementing projects without relevant approvals, procurements, biddings and designs not following regulations, and taking bribes and falsifications of technical construction standards.
The inspections already conducted in some ministries and provinces found a loss of state properties amounting to 70.8 billion kip, US$3.3 million, and 6.1 million Thai baht. Of this 22.2 billion kip, US$2.8 million, and 3.8 million Thai baht was successfully reclaimed by national treasuries, and some vehicles and equipment were also confiscated. As a result of the investigations 334 people were punished, with 281 perpetrators based in provinces and the rest from ministries and organisations.
At the meeting, Mr Soukanh also spoke about the government’s cooperation with foreign countries in the region, and international organisations, including attendees of the ninth Southeast Asia Against Corruption meeting, which he said has enhanced the solidarity with foreign countries.
Source: Vientiane Times