Vietnam’s customs officers have been given a bad name due to incidents disrupting their public image
A top Vietnam Customs official has admitted that there are a few ‘rotten apples’ among his force, and vowed to put measures in place to keep them from ‘spoiling the barrel.’
Hoang Viet Cuong, deputy director general of the General Department of Vietnam Customs, made no secret that some customs officers “have not been educating themselves morally,” during reception of a government delegation on Friday.
Cuong was addressing Mai Tien Dung, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office, who led a delegation of government officials to visit the Ministry of Finance, which manages the customs department, for talks on streamlining business conditions.
“Our stance is to implement strict disciplinary actions on violating officers,” Cuong said. “The general department is also drafting a code of conduct, which will be used during in-house training programs for customs officers,” he added.
At Friday’s meeting, Minister Dung acknowledged the finance ministry’s efforts in the management of state budget but reminded the customs deputy chief of recent complaints about officers’ misbehaviors.
“Customs officers must be attentive and open when engaging with the people and business representatives,” Dung said. “If possible, technology should be put to use to minimize person-to-person contact.”
Nguyen Minh Thao, an expert who studies business environment from the Central Institute for Economic Management, said businesses still have to pay ‘unofficial fees’ to complete customs procedures.
“This is a form of petty corruption,” she said. “The amount businesses are made to pay at each step along the way may not be much, but if you add them all up it will be a huge number,” Thao said.
Twenty-eight percent of more than 3,100 businesses polled in a 2015 survey by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said they had to pay customs officials pay under the table to get paperwork done.
Air travelers have often complained about customs officers purportedly demanding moneyto have their luggage pass customs check without troublesome questionings.