Laos National Assembly members request revision of draft anti-corruption law

A National Assembly member asks a question during the ongoing parliamentary sitting. - Vientiane Times/ANN

VIENTIANE: National Assembly (NA) members have asked the government to improve some of the articles contained in a draft of the amended Law on Anti-Corruption, so that it is more relevant to the current situation in Laos.

Members requested that some of the articles contained in the draft amendment be revised while others suggested the addition of more articles and the inclusion of specific penalties in corruption cases, when the law was discussed on Tuesday (June 18) at a session chaired by NA Vice President Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher.

Revision of the law will enable stronger measures to be taken against corrupt individuals, with Assembly members saying that fines should be larger and other penalties should be more stringent and spelled out in detail.

Corruption takes many forms, members noted, and said the law should specify what penalties should be imposed for each type of activity, to be determined by the relevant government bodies.

The Law on Anti-Corruption was enacted in 2005 and revised in 2012.

A second revision is now being considered so that the law is a practical and dependable reference and can be used by law enforcement officials during the prosecution process.

Effective enforcement of the law will strengthen public service delivery, good governance and the rule of law, as well as maintaining integrity and justice, which is fundamental to development, progress, and the alleviation of poverty.

The government has lost millions of dollars to corruption, with government development and investment projects such as road and bridge construction the leading source of widespread graft, according to the State Inspection Authority.

The government has vowed to address corrupt practices that are pervasive in politics and every sector of the economy and society, and which deter potential foreign investors from pumping money into much-needed infrastructure and other forms of development.

Despite the existence of the anti-corruption law that criminalises the abuse of power, public sector fraud, embezzlement and bribery, Laos’ judiciary is weak and inefficient, and government officials are rarely prosecuted.

“The law is strict but enforcement is weak, and that’s not going to solve the problem,” NA members said.

In recent years, some officials have been fired or moved to other positions but no other more stringent measures have been taken and offenders are never named or shamed.

Many state employees are corrupt, including police officers and tax collectors, as well as employees at some mining companies, who conspire with high-ranking officials to defraud the government. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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