Since 2016, a total of 3,690 members of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (including 440 women) have been disciplined over incidences of corruption and other forms of misconduct, according to an official report unveiled last week.
Of these, 2,019 people were expelled from the Party, 150 officials were demoted, and 742 members were banned from taking part in Party meetings and activities.
In addition, 753 other Party members and nine Party cadres were given warnings instructing them not to repeat their transgressions, according to the report, which was presented at a nationwide state inspection meeting held in Oudomxay province on April 8-9.
The meeting was attended by Standing Member of the Party Central Committee Secretariat and Vice President of Laos, Bounthong Chitmany, and senior leaders from the provinces of Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Xayaboury, Luang Namtha and Bokeo.
The report was published after the State Inspection Authority, in cooperation with provincial authorities, inspected infrastructure development projects, mining and timber processing businesses, and land use and management.
Investigations into more than 4,180 targets since 2016 revealed that more than 8.97 trillion kip (including 8.37 trillion kip, US$50.22 million and 36.89 million baht) had been lost to corruption.
Of this amount, authorities have so far retrieved only 1.82 trillion kip (including 1,782 billion kip, US$3.55 million and 11.16 million baht) and have pledged to recover the rest of the money embezzled by corrupt officials.
In addition, inspectors scrutinised 2,000 out of 5,542 state investment projects and found that 1,119 people, including 127 state officials and 246 business executives, had been involved in the misappropriation of funds.
In recent years, prosecutions have been made in 842 cases of corruption, which involved at least 360 government officials and 364 staff at state enterprises. The United Nations describes corruption as a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune.
Vice President Bounthong Chitmany called on the State Inspection Authority and other sectors concerned to enhance their role and take more responsibility in exposing corruption and corrupt officials.
Inspectors were instructed to specify target areas for inspection and to carry out early investigations to ensure that the nation is protected against huge losses from corruption.
“Our Party considers corruption to be a major threat to the existence and development of our new regime. Not only that, it creates social injustice and affects the trust of people in the government,” Bounthong said.
The Vice President said future inspections should focus on finance, planning and project approvals, to plug loopholes that could result in financial leaks.
Inspectors must carry out in-depth investigations as the government seeks to fulfil two national agendas, which aim to address economic and financial difficulties and combat drug trafficking, to help the country overcome these growing challenges.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK