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VP Phankham Warns That Both Givers and Takers Will Be Punished For Corruption

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Vice President Phankham Viphavanh has warned businesses not to conspire with corrupt officials, saying that both the beneficiaries (officials) and providers (businesses) would be subject to punishment if exposed.

The Vice President issued the warning after noting that businesses have conspired with undisciplined officials, causing them to be corrupt in relation to the payment of taxes and customs duties.

“Businesses are well aware of who is corrupt as they contribute to officials’ corruption,” he told a meeting of business leaders in Vientiane on Wednesday, organised by the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Without the cooperation of businesses, officials would find it more difficult to be corrupt in this context, said MrPhankham, who is also Standing Member of the Secretariat Committee of the 10th Party Central Committee.

He observed that some businesses had distorted their accounts to avoid paying the full amount of tax they owed, while tax officials conspired in this process for their personal gain.

In addition, the Vice President said he was aware that state officials in charge of approving state investment projects negotiated deals with businesses in which approval was granted in exchange for a considerable bribe.

“If a bribe is paid and the case is uncovered, both the giver and recipient will be prosecuted,” MrPhankham warned.

“Don’t misunderstand that the giver won’t be guilty.”

In some cases, state officials from different departments or ministries work as a corrupt group, which MrPhankham described as a “benefit-generating group or corrupting mafia.”

He explained that such groups comprised officials from departments or ministries whose mandate was to oversee the processes involved in awarding contracts to businesses to carry out state investment projects. Their corrupt tactics involved awarding contracts in exchange for a bribe.

The vice president stressed the need for all sectors to work together to tackle the issue, saying these problems had been the focus of hostile groups’ efforts to tarnish the government’s image and persuade people to misunderstand [Party policy].

“But this issue (corruption) is only resorted to by some undisciplined officials, not all officials. It is not part of the ideology or guidelines of the Party,” MrPhankham said.

The government has pledged to take action to crack down on corruption after taking office in April.

Addressing a nationwide inspection meeting last week, President Bounnhang Vorachit, who is also Secretary General of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, instructed anti-corruption authorities to appropriately punish officials found to be in violation of the regulations, in another attempt to stamp out malpractice and lax discipline.

Also in Wednesday’s meeting, Mr Phankham gave advice to businesses to ensure their effective operation.

Source: Vientiane Times