Vietnamese see progress in fight against corruption, grand and petty

By Minh Nga   May 1, 2020 | 05:59 pm PT
Vietnamese see progress in fight against corruption, grand and petty
Vietnamese citizens believe that corruption in the public sector was most decreasing in nine years in 2019. Photo by Shutterstock/Atstock Productions.
Vietnamese agree with an annual survey that said corruption in public administration had decreased the most in nine years in 2019.

The Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI 2019) released this week showed that last year there had been the strongest improvement in the Control of Corruption in the Public Sector indicator since 2011.

PAPI has been providing data on six key indicators of government performance, the other five being Participation at Local Levels, Transparency in Local Decision Making, Vertical Accountability Towards Citizens, Public Administrative Procedures, and Public Service Delivery.

In 2018 the index added two new indicators, Environmental Governance and E-Governance. 

For the 2019 index, 14,138 citizens randomly selected from all 63 provinces and cities in the country were interviewed.

The rate of respondents saying corruption had decreased was five percentage points more than in 2018.

Improvements were seen in all aspects that make up the corruption indicator: limits on public sector corruption, limits on corruption in public services, equity in employment, and willingness to fight corruption.

The progress made in Control of Corruption in the Public Sector matches well-documented reform efforts under a high-profile anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by Party chief and President Nguyen Phu Trong.

Initiated in 2017, it has netted several high-profile government officials, top military officers and businessmen, who have been arrested and jailed for crimes ranging from graft to money laundering.

According to official figures, 427 corruption cases were investigated and 200 went to court in 2018. In the first nine months of 2019 there were 435 cases and 279 trials.

Stringent punishment for corrupt high-ranking officials will act as a deterrent, Trong said at a meeting last year. The crackdown would continue and no one would be spared, he warned.

The 2019 PAPI report reflects the clear impact of this anti-corruption campaign on perceptions of grand and petty corruption.

While the anti-corruption drive is changing perceptions, there is continued evidence of a significant decline in petty corruption as experienced by citizens at district level public hospitals or when applying for land use right certificates.

While control of corruption scores has improved, a substantial number of respondents (20-45 percent) continue to perceive corruption as being prevalent in the public sector.

This suggests that more efforts are needed to address this problem. 

Poverty still a concern

According to the 2019 PAPI report, a collaboration between the Center for Community Support and Development Studies, the Center for Research and Training of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, Real-Time Analytics, a HCMC-based research consulting and technology development firm, and the United Nations Development Program, before Vietnam was affected by Covid-19, poverty, economy and the environment were the top concerns among the public.

Poverty/hunger has topped the list of most important issues facing Vietnam every year and 2019 was no exception, with nearly a quarter of respondents saying it was their main concern.

It was followed by economic growth (11 percent), environment (8.85 percent) and jobs/employment (6.36 percent).

These concerns are likely to be amplified in the coming months with large sections being hit hard by the pandemic.

The PAPI results indicate that people without social insurance consider poverty a pressing issue. They seem to be mainly concerned about the lack of certainty they will have sufficient resources for the future. But the unprecedented $2.6 billion social protection package approved by the National Assembly and expected to benefit over 10 percent of the population affected by Covid-19 should help address some of these concerns.

Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, said: "The nationally representative findings on top citizen greatest concerns, including poverty and job loss, and evaluation of recent reform priorities regarding control of corruption and e-governance, provide valuable insights for policy makers as Vietnam enters the recovery phase of Covid-19."

The state of the environment remains a significant public concern, suggesting it has become a mainstream issue among the public and underlining the importance of a public policy response to poor air and water quality.

Nguyen Huu Dung, vice president of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, said, "The analysis and assessment of public administration and governance performance at the provincial level from a public perspective is a very important channel of information which not only reflects public perception and expectations at the grassroots level but also serves as an indication of provincial public administration and governance performance helping policy makers introduce timely policy adjustments and improvements to respond to actual circumstances." 

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