Employment & Labour Law

Attapeu penalises, fires Officials over Misconduct

Date: 24 January 2019; Type: Legal News; Source: Vientiane Times

Attapeu’s provincial leadership has fired one official and is considering dismissing two others in cases of misconduct.

Nine other officials have been warned and reprimanded concerning misconduct, the Socio-economic newspaper reported yesterday.

The newspaper cited a report presented at the 9th Plenary Session of the Provincial Party Committee which took place in the province last week.

A senior official from the provincial Party and State Inspection Committee told Vientiane Times that the expelled official and the two others who face possible dismissal were involved in arranging for 27 trucks to transport illegally harvested wood to a neighbouring country in 2017.

The trucks were loaded with 13,000 cubic metres of illicit timber. Their illegal cargo was discovered as they were heading to the Phoukeua International Checkpoint on the Vietnamese border. The discovery was one of the biggest scandals in Laos in recent years.

Other officials were warned concerning neglect of their duties, according to the senior official, who asked not to be named.

Last week’s meeting, chaired by provincial Party Secretary General and provincial Governor Leth Sayaphone, reviewed a wide range of work under the leadership of the provincial Party Committee over the past year and outlined the work plan for 2019.

The dismissal of the civil servant is the latest case in which state officials have been penalised publicly as part of the government’s intensified efforts to tackle corruption and abuse of power.

Both central and local state organisations have reported punishing officials who committed offences.

A recent report suggested that the Savannakhet provincial administration has disciplined more than 30 officials while many others are being investigated over misconduct and corruption.

Five officials were found to be involved in issuing 247 fake work permits to foreign nationals, causing losses of more than 250 million kip. Another 21 officials were involved in the misuse of the budget for medicine and medical equipment, resulting in losses of about 5 billion kip, and were penalised. Another 14 officials are being investigated in the same case.

In October, Xayaboury provincial authorities revealed that more than 210.73 billion kip had been lost to corruption since 2015, with 24 state officials found to be involved.

Most of the wrongdoing occurred at the state-owned Agriculture Promotion Bank’s Xayaboury branch. More than 9.26 billion kip of the lost money has since been recovered and the officials involved were disciplined.

In September, the Ministry of Finance fired eight officials, most of whom were in senior positions, on charges of corruption. They included a then assistant minister, the deputy director of an institute, and the head of a division.

After taking office in April 2016, President Bounnhang Vorachit and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith made it clear that the Lao leadership would take strong action to combat corruption.

The war on dishonesty and graft has escalated under the ongoing anti-corruption drive, with the spotlight falling on those in charge of economic and financial matters.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somdy Duangdy recently issued a decision which imposed 10 so-called prohibitions on finance officials.

These include not accepting or offering bribes as well as not requesting payment in any form from business operators for personal gain, and not embezzling or fraudulently obtaining assets or money from the state or members of the public.

Officials were also instructed not to intentionally delay the consideration of any document submitted or create any difficulty in the process, with the intention of benefitting from payment to expedite the process.

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