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Stronger enforcement of anticorruption laws needed

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Article from Vientiane Times
Author: Time Reporters
Published: 28/05/2010
Newspaper section: International Cooperation

The Lao Anti-Corruption Law meets international standards but enforcement is inadequate, anti-corruption officials say. A workshop was held in Vientiane yesterday to discuss improvements to the law after Laos ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in September last year.

"I think the Lao anticorruption law is good but the problem is we can't enforce it properly," said an unnamed official at the workshop on the UNCAC Assessment Process. State inspectors and auditors from the Lao Central State Inspection Authority, government officials and UN representatives attended the half-day event, which was chaired by Central State Inspection Committee member, Mr Singphet Buasavattiphanh.

Lao officials expressed a desire for the United Nations to help the Lao government to disseminate information relating to the law and other related decrees and regulations. One issue raised at the workshop was that many Lao officials lack a proper understanding of the law and thus face difficulties in enforcing it.

The law was granted presidential approval in 2005, providing a legal backup for the authority to establish a specific anti-corruption department to combat fraud. The government has also introduced a number of decrees and regulations to control budget expenditure as measures to prevent corruption. Mr Singphet said corruption is a threat to developing and least-developed nations and many countries in the Asia and Pacific regions are interested in becoming a signatory to the UNCAC. Parties to the UNCAC can seek assistance from international organizations to build capacity to combat corruption in their nation. UN Resident Coordinator a.i. Mr Leik Boonwaat said Laos needs to address corruption as it aims to achieve targets outlined in the National Socio-Economic Development Plan and Millennium Development Goals. "Laos has achieved tremendous growth over the past few decades.

While economic growth measured in GDP has been impressive, there is still work to be done in order to achieve the goals set in the new National Socio-Economic Development Plan and the Millennium Development Goals," he said. "In this context, corruption is a critical issue that must be addressed in order to ensure well balanced development." He said corruption affects everyone but it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the most. Corruption diverts funds intended for essential public services, erodes public confidence in the overnment and actively discourages private sector investment.