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Report: Survey reveals rampant corruption remains Vietnam's biggest concern

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      Report: Survey reveals rampant corruption remains Vietnam's biggest concern
      HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Rampant corruption remains the biggest problem facing Vietnam, according to the largest public survey undertaken in the country, state-controlled media reported Thursday.
      More than 92 percent of officials and businessmen and 84 percent of citizens surveyed pinpointed corruption as the country's most serious problem, the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper said.
      More than 5,400 people, including government officials, business executives and citizens throughout the country, participated in the yearlong survey conducted by the Communist Party's Internal Affairs Commission.
      The report concluded that "Corruption has eaten deep into many layers (of administration), in all levels and in every field," Thanh Nien said. "It even takes place in relief aid for victims of disasters, aid for hunger elimination and poverty alleviation."
      Sponsored by the Swedish Embassy, the survey identified 10 government agencies where corruption is widespread, with the land and housing administration, customs and traffic police occupying the top three spots.
      A third of respondents who were asked, "What would you do if someone offers you bribes?" said they would accept them.
      Corruption in Vietnam can mean anything from construction firms paying kickbacks for government projects to parents bribing elite schools to accept their children.
      The ruling Communist Party has made fighting corruption one of its top priorities, but only a handful of senior officials have been disciplined in recent years.
      Earlier this week, the National Assembly passed a long-awaited anti-corruption law that requires government officials and their relatives to declare their assets and government agencies to be more transparent.
      The law also establishes an anti-corruption commission, headed by the prime minister, to coordinate the fight against corruption.
      "Corruption is a phenomenon of injustice, making the poor poorer and having an impact on Vietnam's growth and development," the paper quoted Swedish Ambassador Anna Lindstedt as saying.
      The survey cited the lack of transparency in legal documents and policies, low ethical standards among officials and low salaries as reasons for corruption. Most of those surveyed also said punishments against corrupt officials were not harsh enough.
      12/01/05 01:11 EST
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