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Thursday, 24 November 2016 15:48
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Launch of Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index 2015

(LLCT) - On the 12th of April 2016, the United Nations Development Program in Vietnam (UNDP), the Centre for Official Fostering and Scientific Research (under the Fatherland Front of Vietnam), and the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies, launched Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) 2015 in Hanoi. In attendance of the ceremony were Prof. Dr. Ta Ngoc Tan, President of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, H.E. Ms. Beatrice Maser Mallor, Ambassador of Switzerland to Vietnam, and Ms. Pratibha Mehta, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Vietnam.

In the opening speech, Ms. Pratibha Mehta stated that PAPI is a tool that reflected the voice of the people about the effectiveness of state performance and administration, policy implementation, and public service at all levels. At the end of 2015, PAPI has been calculated for 7 years, including five consecutive years (2011-2015), in all 63 provinces and cities of Vietnam. PAPI creates motivation to increase the effectiveness of governance and public administration from central to local levels and also contributes to improving public service for the people and promoting sustainable development in Vietnam. At the threshold of the National Assembly and People’s Council elections, PAPI provides a source of data and information that acts as a mirror for the authorities to review their governance and public administration performance over the past 5 years, allowing them to renew and increase the quality of their activities in the future. The number of local governments using PAPI results in their operation has increased over the years. To date, 26 provinces and cities have issued directive documents, such as resolutions or decrees of the Provincial and City Party Committee and People’s Councils, decisions enclosed with action plans for Provincial and City People’s Committee to enhance provincial governance and public administration based on PAPI surveys.

Prof., Dr. Ta Ngoc Tan said in his welcoming remarks that PAPI reveals important data with high reliability, creating the basis for conducting administrative reform throughout Vietnam, particularly at the provincial level. This is the basis for reforming political institutions to meet the requirements of national development. In 2011, the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and UNDP collaborated on research on public administration performance in many provinces and cities all over the country. A number of provinces and cities have made commitments to enhance the efficiency of administrative reform. PAPI has been used in training of medium and senior leaders of the Academy, particularly in training of senior resource officials. In the future, the Academy will continue to cooperate with UNDP to research with PAPI and make contributions to the efficiency of local government performance.

The 2015 PAPI report was made on the basis of qualitative research with nearly 14 thousand research samples collected from 63 provinces and cities around the country. PAPI aims to improve the efficiency of local governments in order to better meet the requirements of the people, to create fair competition practices and a culture of learning experiences among local governments, and to create opportunities for the people to assess the effectiveness of government operations and government advocacy.

PAPI surveys 6 dimensions and has obtained the following results:

Participation of the people at grassroots level

Active and positive participation in political and social life is a Vietnamese citizen’s constitutional right, enshrined in the country’s 2007 Ordinance on the Implementation of Democracy in Communes, Wards and Townships as well as many other legal documents. As such, citizen participation is a fundamental aspect of public governance in Vietnam. PAPI measures citizens’ knowledge of their participation rights and how to properly exercise them. The analysis results have shown that citizen participation in 2015 remains limited in most aspects measured by PAPI. Three out of four sub-dimensions (including citizens’ knowledge of the right to participate, opportunities to participate, and quality of village head and/or residential cluster head elections) dropped their scores from the baseline of 2011. Most of the provinces with high dimensional scores in 2015 were concentrated in the north-eastern and central regions.

Thai Binh and Ha Tinh provinces scored in the top group over four consecutive years since 2012. Lang Son, Son La, Lai Chau and Ba Ria - Vung Tau have had the biggest drop of scores (from 25% upwards).

Regarding transparency

PAPI measures citizens’ right to know about state policies that directly affect the rights and duties of participation in governing life and general livelihoods with three indicators: transparency of poverty list; transparency of commune budget and expenditures, and transparency of local land use plans and land price frames. These are specific fields that must be made available to the public according to the Ordinance on the Implementation of Democracyat Grassroots Level and other recent legislations to ensure that “people know, people discuss, people do, and people verify”. This dimensional score sharply dropped in most of the provinces and cities. Among 63 provinces and cities, 11 saw improvements in comparison to 2011 while 17 provinces and cities saw a decrease. Provinces and cities with high scores are mostly concentrated in the North and Central regions.

Regarding vertical accountability

This dimension measures the interactions between local authorities and citizens and the effectiveness of the institutions that exercise democracy at grassroots level, including the People’s Inspection Board and Community Investment Supervision Board. The dialogue mechanisms set between local governments and citizens, and the institutions for them to effectively supervise state management of local authorities, promote citizens’ rights of discussion and governmental inspection. The survey in 2015 showed some signs of decline in this area of government. The two sub-dimensions that witnessed the largest drops relate to the presence and effectiveness of the People’s Inspection Board and Community Investment Supervision Board at the grassroots level while northern-central provinces have had high dimensional scores over the past 5 years. Da Nang, Quang Binh, Ha Tinh and Quang Tri have been rated highly on citizen interactions with local authorities between 2011 and 2015. Ha Nam’s dimensional scores dropped 15% over the 5 year period while Bac Ninh’s ones increased 23%, some Northwestern and Mekong River Delta provinces also have made progress.

Regarding control of corruption in the public sector

This dimension measures citizens’ perception and experience with local government performance in controlling corruption across four key aspects: limits on public sector corruption, limits on corruption in public service, equity in state employment, and willingness to fight corruption. This index also shows the level of corrupt practices by citizens. The year 2015 continued to witness the decline in anti-corruption efforts at the provincial level in all four dimensions measured by PAPI compared to previous years. More inspiring, however, is the fact that more than a third of provinces and cities have made significant improvements over the last 5 years. The average score of increase was at least 5% in comparison with that of 2011. The provinces and cities with top scores and high average scores are concentrated in the central and the southern regions. Hanoi has consistently remained in the poorest performance group for 5 consecutive years.

Regarding public administration procedures

This dimension measures the quality of public service in areas important to citizens, including certification services by local authorities, provision of construction permits, provision of land use rights certificates, and public services at the commune level. People’s assessments are based on their own practical experience in using local administrative services. Criteria for assessment include transparency of procedures and fees, competence and behaviour of civil servants, simplicity of procedures, services done with appointments, and the general satisfaction of the people using the services. Citizens’ satisfaction with the quality of public services at the provincial level across the four dimensions measured by PAPI mostly remained unchanged through years. Da Nang, Quang Binh, Ha Tinh and Ha Nam have recorded the highest scores from 2011 to 2015. Among the four administrative services measured by PAPI, the service of provision, change, or transference of land use right certificates has remained problematic and consequently garnered many unsatisfactory assessments. On the other hand, the administrative procedures at the commune and ward level have received greater satisfaction from users; in 2015, up to 96% of those questioned expressed their satisfaction with these services.

Regarding public service delivery

The efficiency of public service is examined in four key public areas: public health care, public primary education, basic infrastructure, and residential law and order. The results of public service have remained relatively stable over the past 5 years. In 2015, the gap between the highest score (7.76 of Vinh Long) and the lowest one (6.32 of Dak Nong) was the narrowest among the six dimensions. This shows that the majority of people have been relatively satisfied with the four public services measured by PAPI. Among these four services, basic infrastructure (electricity, roads, clean water and garbage collection) was rated better than the four previous years. The quality of public primary education and law and order remained unchanged after five years. However, citizens were less satisfied with public health care in comparison with the four previous years and there was a greater gap among provinces in the quality of district hospitals. Many provinces in the South had high scores in this dimension, including Vinh Long, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, Kien Giang and Ba Ria - Vung Tau. Some provinces made impressive improvements, such as Ha Giang, Hung Yen and Ninh Binh (with an increase of 15% compared to 2011). Citizens in mountainous provinces, on the other hand, continued to face more difficulties than the ones in lowland provinces in accessing key public services. Up to 97% of households nationwide had access to electricity in 2015. However, this rate in Lai Chau was only 58%. In Ha Giang, the people were least satisfied with the local roads. In Gia Lai, only 2% of respondents stated that their households had clean water for daily living while almost every household in Da Nang had access to safe water.

Based on analyzing the six aforementioned dimensions, the Report has made the following recommendations:

The governments at all levels should implement strict plans to improve the transparency of land use and price frames for property while, at the same time, ensuring fair compensation for land acquisition.   

Anti-corruption efforts should be reinforced. Although the political willingness to curb corruption is clearly manifest in the central authorities, the results of PAPI 2015 revealed that corruption has remained pervasive and is on an upward trend. As such, a specific plan of action must be enacted for preventing and fighting corruption and mechanisms put in place to encourage public officials, civil servants and citizens to participate in preventing and denouncing corruption at all levels.

Citizens should be given encouragement to participate in the political life of their country. All voters, particularly women, should be given favourable conditions to participate in elections. This important right should be ensured for all citizens, and election units and voters must protect this right by complying with the rule of “one person, one vote”.

Nguyen Hoa Mai

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