No big deal

As published in Vietweek on 19/10/2012

"Envelope money" is so much the norm that it is not seen as a tainted practice

The practice of giving and receiving under-the-table money is actually so common that it is not even considered bribery, but an intrinsic part of local business culture, evoking no guilt either in the giver or the taker.

Seventy percent of companies in Ha Noi, Hai Phong and Son La interviewed in the survey by the Development and Policies Research Center said they had bribed government officials to get things done last year. Sixty-three percent of respondents in that survey by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry said sending gifts in cash or kind to express gratitude to government officials is a common custom. Some 70 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: "In case of working with government offices, give money first and everything will be easy." However interesting these surveys are, they are just more of the same. When you have a situation that is more of the same, then you have to try implementing new approaches," said Jairo Acuña-Alfaro, anti-corruption policy advisor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Viet Nam.

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