A month after being elected as the prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said he is saddened by the fact that the public and business community continue to be the victims of corruption.


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc

"I'm really sad! People have to pay bribes to own their land and agree to corruption to be issued with their legally entitled land-use certificate. Meanwhile bureaucrats still procrastinate in providing better quality services to people to help them navigate red tape. Now is the time for the management of public land and the environment to be tightened and for problems to be solved. This is our current headache," said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a conference on the implementation of the Law on Enterprises on April 25.

Bribery was highlighted in the Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index. It reported that 44 percent of people had to pay bribes to receive their land use rights certificate last year but many people believe this figure is actually higher.

Firms have also said that they did not need help or support from officials; they'd just feel relieved to no longer be 'tortured' by them and any improvement in the situation would help the country's development.

The 2015 Provincial Competitiveness Index conducted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows that the number of firms had to give bribes increased from 50 percent in 2013 to 64.5 percent and 66 percent in most recent two years.

Over 11 percent of firms questioned said bribery accounted for 10 percent of their total revenues.

65 percent said it had become normal to be harassed by officials.

The point about cumbersome administrative procedures is also spot on as there are about 7,000 kinds of permits, licences, legal documents, half of which are completely unnecessary.

Le Manh Ha, Vice Chairman of the Government Office, said, "How can a firm that weighs just 40kg live when it has to shoulder a weight of 400kg?"

Phuc's statement seems to imply that the time for just talking is over and more action is needed.

The revised Law on Enterprises and Law on Investment were introduced with adjustments to trim bureaucracy.

When Government Office Vice Chairman Nguyen Cao Luc expressed concerns that they might create loopholes if the procedures were trimmed down too much, Phuc said, "On one hand, we have to maintain discipline but on the other hand, we have to be flexible and remove obstacles facing the public and businesses."

He also warned other agencies to follow the new revised laws. "Agencies can't act against or nullify these laws just to boost their own power."

We have to face many difficulties in last few months: 22,000 firms shut in the first quarter and central coastal region has suffered from mass fish deaths.

The Xin Chao Coffee Shop in HCM City is a small case that should never have required the intervention from prime minister.

But because of the abuse of power by local police and judicial officers the PM had to intervene to ask HCM City People's Committee Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong to stop the prosecution of the cafe owner, Nguyen Van Tan.

The owner said his only error was starting business five days before the business licence arrived.

But officers from the Binh Chanh police station charged him for lacking the necessary business licence and food safety certification.

He was prosecuted on January 25 by district’s procurator for illegally conducting business.

More than sad, it's worrisome that officials display such poor judgement or skills.

When Phuc was still deputy prime minister, he said that 30 percent of the civil servants currently employed were superfluous as they did nothing useful.

Positive steps have been taken since Phuc was elected as prime minister and he seems willing to listen to difficulties and problems directly from the businesses during a meeting on April 29 held by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.