Gov’t leader refuses holiday gifts as Vietnam pledges tough corruption fight

By Staff reporters   December 29, 2017 | 12:10 pm GMT+7

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said anti-corruption efforts should be improved from grassroots levels.

Lunar New Year gift baskets are on display at a supermarket in Hanoi in early 2017. Photo by Ha Phuong

Lunar New Year gift baskets are on display at a supermarket in Hanoi in early 2017. Photo by VnExpress/Ha Phuong

Vietnam’s government leader asked officials across the country not to come to Hanoi bearing gifts in the coming Lunar New Year, the biggest festival in Vietnam when bribes are usually offered in holiday wrappings.

“Local leaders do not have to visit the capital with holiday gifts,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a teleconference on Thursday.

The Lunar New Year, known as Tet in Vietnamese, will peak on February 16, and the government has approved a seven-day break starting two days ahead. The traditional festival with the beloved custom of lucky money has become a perfect disguise for people bringing gifts to bosses and government officials in exchange of certain favors.

Vietnamese leaders have voiced opposition of the holiday gift practice for years. The government issued a decision in 2007 restricting the spending of state budget on holiday gifts.

Vietnam’s anti-corruption department under the Government Inspectorate has also set up three hotlines at 08.048228, 0902.386.999, 0125.698.6688 to receive the public’s tip-offs on violations in Tet gift giving. Last holiday, the department received 56 calls regarding bogus gift exchanges and corruption in traffic control, urban and market management.

Phuc was repeating the guideline on Thursday as he called for better efforts to clean up the government system. He said corruption must be fought from grassroots levels and officials must maintain proper services in their own communities.

Many people from across the country are still flocking to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest metropolises, seeking help for problems in their areas, which means their officials were not doing a good job listening to them, he said.

Most complaints are about land dispute, which local officials should be able to handle themselves, he said.

The government’s online conference is going on through Friday to discuss plans to improve socio-economic environments in 2018.

 
 
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