Taboo of gives-and-takes
The Saigon Times Daily
The recent revelations of enterprises donating luxury vehicles to State agencies have aroused public concern, with many people perceiving this practice as an act of bribery. No law thus far has defined it as illegal, though. The prevailing rule only forbids individual officials from taking expensive gifts, which is a corrupt practice, while State agencies are not affected by this.
As reported in local media weeks ago, an enterprise named Cong Ly had donated two Lexus sport utility vehicles (SUV) to Ca Mau Province with each costing VND3.1 billion. One is now used by Ca Mau Province’s People’s Committee, and the other by the provincial Party Committee. The case has caused controversy over the legitimacy of such donations.
Soon later, the public concern was heightened when it was uncovered that the chief of the Party Committee of Danang City was using a VND1.3 billion sedan donated by an enterprise. Speaking to reporters, Danang City authorities say that State agencies in the city have received up to eight vehicles from corporate donors.
The general director of Cong Ly in Ca Mau says that his company, before making the donation, learned from the Danang City case, indicating that a precedent had been established whereby other enterprises can use it to approach State agencies to seek a favor.
Authorities from both Ca Mau Province and Danang City have asserted that all such donations have been treated in accordance with the law, and no special favors are given to donors in return. However, such explanations are not convincing. For instance, the media has cast doubt on a decision by Ca Mau to offer a VND25 billion loan to Cong Ly Company, wondering whether the lending may have been influenced by the company's generous donation.
There was a case in which an enterprise donated a SUV to the Ministry of Transport years ago vexing the public. There have now emerged donations of expensive vehicles, let alone a high probability that other “gives-and-takes” have gone unreported. All such cases have to some extent eroded public confidence.
Pending regulations governing such gives-and-takes, and given strong public reactions to such cases, State agencies should not accept vehicles or other costly items even for the sake of public administration, either under the form of donation or lending.
The Saigon Times Daily