(CPV) – So said Ms Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank's Country Director for Vietnam during an interview with a reporter from the Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper.
Reporter: How do you feel about the Vietnamese Government’s policies and solutions on fighting corruption over the last few years?
Ms Victoria Kwakwa: There has been progress in some areas. The dialogue surrounding corruption has become increasingly open and frank, the legal system is more transparent than five or ten years ago, and the government is paying greater attention to monitoring the actual level of corruption.
These are positive achievements. It is important to remember that addressing corruption means addressing the underlying causes. If your boat is sinking, you don’t just bale water, you fix the leak. It is the same with corruption. Vietnam has made progress in reducing administrative barriers, in making processes simpler, in making decisions more transparent- these actions also remove opportunities for corruption.
At the same time, we know that all of these efforts can be improved even further, for example by continuing to emphasize transparency, not only in law making, but also in SOE finances, in budget processes, in personnel decision making and throughout the public sector. Transparency should be the rule, not the exception. The accountability system can also be strengthened by doing more to control conflicts of interest, by making assets disclosures publicly available and a real tool for tracking ill-gotten wealth, and by opening space for civil society to play a more active role.
Despite the successes, however, the Government knows and we know that corruption remains a serious problem and we are committed to helping the Government and working with other stakeholders to continue to address the underlying causes.
Reporter: What are the results of the WB-financed projects and programs relating to Vietnam’s war against corruption? What is your evaluation of the implementation of anti-corruption initiatives in 2010 and 2011 by the Vietnam Anti-Corruption Initiative Program (VACI)?
Ms Victoria Kwakwa: The World Bank works very closely with other donors to support the Government’s efforts to address the underlying causes that make corruption so prevalent. Vietnam Development Report 2010 - Modern Institutions presented the views of 14 development partners on Vietnam’s key challenges, including on corruption.
Ms Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank's Country Director for Vietnam.
A study on Corruption Risks in Land Management, which we produced together with Denmark and Sweden, described in simple terms the factors which make corruption more likely and more profitable. The study showed that with risks factors in so many areas of land management, it would be surprising if corruption did not occur. The main messages of these studies, especially surrounding the problems with involuntary land acquisition, really resonate in the aftermath of the events in Tien Lang earlier this year. We hope that the revisions of the Land Law will address the systems that make corruption so likely and so profitable. The purpose of these studies is to help put ideas and analysis into the public debate about how to improve governance. We have always found our counterparts in government to be welcoming and open to these ideas, and I find that very satisfying.
The best thing about the VACI is that it is truly a Vietnamese effort. It is led by the Government Inspectorate, and the ideas themselves come from Vietnamese organizations. The innovation is truly inspiring. None of the ideas alone will solve Vietnam’s corruption problem, but they can plant seeds for ideas that will help to gradually improve things by increasing awareness, improving transparency, strengthening the service - orientation of public offices, and improving implementation of Vietnam’s laws.
Reporter: Can you describe any new projects, or projects with new features, the World Bank plans to carry out in the coming time to support Vietnam in this area?
Ms Victoria Kwakwa: The World Bank will continue its tradition of working with the Government and other partners to strengthen governance. We have ongoing support for the Government’s efforts to monitor the level and pattern of corruption. I believe this is extremely important—we need a real understanding of corruption, not just guesswork. We are delighted to be supporting the Government’s own efforts in bring data to bear in understanding corruption.
We are also supporting efforts to bring data to bear in other aspects of governance. We are also entering into a new partnership with UK-DFID to support improvements in transparency. We will be systematically measuring and reporting on actual transparency in a range of sectors, and sending the reports back to the provinces. There are many good examples to learn from right within Vietnam, and we want to support this knowledge exchange.
The World Bank’s new Country Partnership Strategy considers governance to be a “cross- cutting theme” that supports competitiveness, sustainability, and equality of opportunity. This approach emphasizes that the best way to improve governance is to integrate governance into all of our work. When we support aquiculture development, we need to think also about how the communities of fishery farmers will collectively manage the common resources. When we seek to improve the livelihoods of people in the northern mountains, we need to think also about supporting the institutions of participation so that people have a real stake in the project. When we think about improving higher education, we need to also think about the accountability systems. When we work to strengthen procurement for our own projects, we will also work with the government to improve their own capacity and policies. When we work to support the system of government budgeting and public financial management, we need to also think about how budget transparency and management information systems can be used to improve accountability for public spending. Governance will be a consideration in all that we do.
Reporter: What policy-making and implementing breakthroughs are needed in the Vietnam socialist-oriented market economy’s war against corruption?
Ms Victoria Kwakwa: Vietnam’s openness to discussing the problem of corruption is commendable, and there have indeed been many small measures that will help to address the underlying causes of corruption. The recent decisions to make assets declarations public in the place where officials work is an example of an important step along the way to full disclosure, but complete public disclosure for high level officials would make them even more effective. We saw in the media coverage of the events in Tien Lang just how effective and professional the media can be in helping to uncover the truth when they are given space to do so, and we hope such space continues to expand.
One area where a breakthrough could really make a difference is in establishing the mechanisms for ensuring that access to information rules are fully implemented. More than 90 countries have done this by passing an access to information law that establishes clearly the mechanisms for ensuring the public’s access to all information that is not specifically defined to be secret.
Passing such a law, and devoting resources to ensuring that it is implemented, would truly be a breakthrough worthy of Vietnam’s next phase of development./.
Reporter: Thank you very much!