Laos lost $30 million to corruption this year

Laos Lost $30 Million To Corruption This YearCorruption in Laos has become worse despite the government’s ramped-up efforts to battle the issue over the past two years, NGOs say.

In addition, many Lao government officials publicly admit that corruption is a huge problem, and have taken action to combat it.

“This year, we inspected 54 targets and found that the government lost $30 million to corruption,” said State Audit Organisation’s chairwoman Viengthong Siphandon, adding that her agency  next year will investigate 99 “targets” or government agencies that receive financial aid or loans from foreign sources.

Siphandon said her agency will audit revenue collection, detailed expenditures, the state budget, rural development and poverty reduction programmes, other programmes that are funded by grants and loans, and the operations of state-owned enterprises.

Meanwhile, at the International Anti-Corruption Day celebration in Vientiane Capital on December 9, State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority Vice Chairman Sinay Mienglavanh said in 2017 and 2018 his agencies “in cooperation with ministries and provinces have inspected many targets that were found to be involved in corruption.”

A total of 587 targets and 37 agencies nationwide were inspected last year, authorities said.

“There are a lot of leaks,” a resident of Vientiane Capital told Radio Free Asia.

“For example, they collect 100 million in taxes but give only 50 million to the government. They can pocket the other 50 million,” he said.

An unidentified ministry official said, “It’s difficult. We have to have evidence that clearly shows they did something wrong. We need to investigate, digging through all the details,” the official added.

In September, the finance minister fired eight employees, including the heads of the finance and budget departments, for falsifying documents to import fuel, saying it was for railroad construction.

Lao government policy allows for fuel imported for this purpose to be tax exempt, but the officials sold the fuel on the market for a profit of about $1.3 million.

Corruption watchdog Transparency International also Said that Laos is becoming even more corrupt.

The Berlin-based global anti-corruption coalition in February published its global corruption perception index, in which Laos was ranked 135th of 180 countries, dropping 12 places from the previous year.

Laos’ index score was 29 on a scale where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. According to the report, Laos is the second most corrupt country in the ASEAN region, behind only Cambodia.

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Corruption in Laos has become worse despite the government’s ramped-up efforts to battle the issue over the past two years, NGOs say. In addition, many Lao government officials publicly admit that corruption is a huge problem, and have taken action to combat it. “This year, we inspected 54 targets and found that the government lost $30 million to corruption,” said State Audit Organisation’s chairwoman Viengthong Siphandon, adding that her agency  next year will investigate 99 “targets” or government agencies that receive financial aid or loans from foreign sources. Siphandon said her agency will audit revenue collection, detailed expenditures, the state...

Laos Lost $30 Million To Corruption This YearCorruption in Laos has become worse despite the government’s ramped-up efforts to battle the issue over the past two years, NGOs say.

In addition, many Lao government officials publicly admit that corruption is a huge problem, and have taken action to combat it.

“This year, we inspected 54 targets and found that the government lost $30 million to corruption,” said State Audit Organisation’s chairwoman Viengthong Siphandon, adding that her agency  next year will investigate 99 “targets” or government agencies that receive financial aid or loans from foreign sources.

Siphandon said her agency will audit revenue collection, detailed expenditures, the state budget, rural development and poverty reduction programmes, other programmes that are funded by grants and loans, and the operations of state-owned enterprises.

Meanwhile, at the International Anti-Corruption Day celebration in Vientiane Capital on December 9, State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority Vice Chairman Sinay Mienglavanh said in 2017 and 2018 his agencies “in cooperation with ministries and provinces have inspected many targets that were found to be involved in corruption.”

A total of 587 targets and 37 agencies nationwide were inspected last year, authorities said.

“There are a lot of leaks,” a resident of Vientiane Capital told Radio Free Asia.

“For example, they collect 100 million in taxes but give only 50 million to the government. They can pocket the other 50 million,” he said.

An unidentified ministry official said, “It’s difficult. We have to have evidence that clearly shows they did something wrong. We need to investigate, digging through all the details,” the official added.

In September, the finance minister fired eight employees, including the heads of the finance and budget departments, for falsifying documents to import fuel, saying it was for railroad construction.

Lao government policy allows for fuel imported for this purpose to be tax exempt, but the officials sold the fuel on the market for a profit of about $1.3 million.

Corruption watchdog Transparency International also Said that Laos is becoming even more corrupt.

The Berlin-based global anti-corruption coalition in February published its global corruption perception index, in which Laos was ranked 135th of 180 countries, dropping 12 places from the previous year.

Laos’ index score was 29 on a scale where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. According to the report, Laos is the second most corrupt country in the ASEAN region, behind only Cambodia.

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