Ho Chi Minh City leader ‘startled’ after corruption probe reveals no violations

By Minh Minh   March 15, 2018 | 03:18 am PT
Ho Chi Minh City leader ‘startled’ after corruption probe reveals no violations
A man checks a newspaper at a newsstand in Ho Chi Minh City. The city's leader has urged its anti-corruption task forces to be more active on media reports and public complaints. Photo by VnExpress
Thousands of complaints were investigated, but only one person showed ‘signs of corruption’.

Ho Chi Minh City's anti-corruption campaign uncovered only one potential violation last year, despite dozens of investigations into graft and thousands of public complaints.

The city's Party secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan said he was 'startled' that  more than 37,000 income declarations by officials had been declared valid at a meeting on Thursday.

“Maybe the findings were incorrect,” he said, as cited by Infonet, the communications ministry's website.

The city also conducted dozens of inspections last year, but Nhan said they had been “ineffective” because no one had been held accountable for any of the problems raised. Only one case “showed signs of corruption”, and that has yet to be dealt with.

He said local media file around 1,000 corruption reports every year, but the city has failed to act on them.

The city's anti-corruption campaign needs to make a breakthrough this year, he said, suggesting the city should deploy a system to gauge public satisfaction.

HCMC is the largest city in Vietnam and home to 13 million people, including migrants. It is also the country’s biggest money-maker, earning more than VND345 trillion ($15.17 billion) last year, up 13 percent from 2016, according to its finance department.

Last November, Vietnamese legislators agreed to give the city more autonomy so it can continue to lead the development race. This new power allows the city to set salaries for industry experts and scientists, raise salaries in the public sector, and decide on its own land and investment policies, powers that are normally held by the prime minister. The city has already announced plans to spend $100 million on raising public sector pay this year to improve public services.

Corruption is a major issue in Vietnam. The Corruption Perceptions Index, released by Transparency International last month, ranked Vietnam at 107th out of 180 economies based on the perceptions of experts and businesspeople.

Vietnam scored 35 on a scale based on 0 for deep-rooted, systemic corruption and 100 for a very clean environment. Last year, it was ranked 113th out of 176 countries and territories with a score of 33, an improvement from 31 in 2012.

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