Provincial governance performance improves "insignificantly": 2015 PAPI

By Lam Le   April 11, 2016 | 07:08 pm PT
Findings from the 2015 Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index or PAPI Report, released today, show declines at the national level in five out of the six governance dimensions the survey measures including participation at local levels, transparency, accountability, corruption control, public administration procedures and quality of public services.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partners polled about 14,000 citizens across the country from different demographic groups.

“With the National Assembly and People’s Councils elections taking place next month, the report provides an effective tool for the new administration to assess governance and public administration reforms over the last five years and benchmark future performance,” said Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator, at the launch of the report.

Out of the six dimensions, the transparency index, which measures citizens’ “rights to know” about state policies that affect their everyday life and livelihoods, fell substantialy by more than seven percent. This decline is partly because of less public awareness of local lists of poor households and less confidence in the accuracy of the information provided.

The corruption dimension also witnessed a drop, down by three percent in 2015. Respondents express more concern about corruption in the public sector and in public service delivery and are more worried about corruption and nepotism in public sector employment. In addition, citizens are less confident about the government’s willingness to control corruption, with just 37 percent saying that their local government is serious about fighting corruption.

Furthermore, compared to 2014 there has been a noticeable spike in bribes paid for land use rights certificates. The 2015 PAPI Report finds that the estimated number of respondents who paid bribes to get a land use rights certificate increased to more than 44 percent in 2015, up from 24 percent in 2014.

The public administrative procedures dimension also saw a slight decrease. Of the four public administrative services measured, the quality of services related to land use rights certificates has scored the lowest every year since 2011. More than 22 percent of those surveyed, for instance, said they had to wait for more than 100 days to get the land use rights paperwork they requested, rather than the 30 days mandated by law.

Only in the public service delivery dimension have scores increased, albeit modestly. Yet respondents are still concerned about the quality of district hospitals and are also unhappy with the quality of public primary education.

The 2015 PAPI survey featured a new question on what respondents believe are the three most important issues facing the country. Poverty and hunger was identified as the most important issue, with 18 percent saying this is the most pressing concern. Jobs and employment, roads, corruption and law and order were also identified as important issues.

The survey also looked at citizens’ opportunities for political participation. In terms of participation in consultations on proposed legislation, individual factors determine who participates in legislative consultations. Party membership is the most important factor. On the other hand, respondents not affiliated with the party or a mass organization and with no degree have a less than one percent probability of taking part in legislative consultations.

Finally, the 2015 PAPI Report looks at provincial performance from 2011-2015 across the six dimensions. Five provinces (Nam Dinh, Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Da Nang and Long An) have been in the top performing group in overall provincial performance every year since 2011.

In general, better performing provinces are found in the north-eastern, central and south-eastern regions. The poorest performing ones are along the northern border area and in the south-central and Central Highlands regions. This pattern has been consistent since 2011.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement. How can Vietnam avoid getting stuck in middle income trap? Important part of the answer is to strengthen governance. Boosting accountability, transparency and citizen feedback will also help Vietnam achieve this,” said Beatrice Maser Mallor, Swiss Ambassador in Hanoi.

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