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Less corruption reported in 2017 PAPI

Released at: 17:58, 04/04/2018

Less corruption reported in 2017 PAPI

Photo: Do Huong

Fewer instances of corruption in 2017 Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index compared to 2016, with report revealing a host of other findings.

by Do Huong

Vietnamese citizens reported less instances of corruption in the 2017 Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) report, released in Hanoi on April 4.

Of the six governance areas measured, the greatest gain was in control of corruption in the public sector. Citizens reported improvements in both their perceptions and personal experiences. Only 17 per cent said they directly experienced corruption when applying for land use rights certificates, down from 23 per cent in 2016, and the proportion experiencing corruption when using public district hospital services fell to 9 per cent in 2017 from 17 per cent in 2016.

In all, 33 cities and provinces saw increases in their score on this dimension compared to 2016, with Quang Ninh, Bac Lieu, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Lao Cai and An Giang achieving increases of 20 per cent or more over the prior year. Among the six provinces that saw significant declines are Dak Nong, Hung Yen and Hai Phong, with their scores falling 9 per cent or more.

When asked about the most important issues facing the country, poverty was by far the most important for citizens again in 2017. Twenty-eight per cent cited it as their top concern, with economic growth second and jobs third. The environment, the second most important issue in 2016, fell to fourth. Still, concern about the environment has risen in importance since 2015 and the 2017 survey explored the relationship between the economy and the environment, finding that all Vietnamese citizens, but particularly highly educated ones, are unwilling to sacrifice environmental protection for economic development.

Citizens reported several positive trends relating to political participation at the local level. The largest increase was in the proportion of those reporting that local projects were monitored by Community Investment Supervision Boards, which rose from 21 per cent in 2016 to 34 per cent in 2017. A higher proportion of citizens also reported having a second candidate to choose from in village head elections, up from 42 per cent in 2016 to 49 per cent in 2017.

They also reported that overall provincial performance in vertical accountability improved slightly. In 2017, about 25 per cent of respondents across the country said they met with village heads to discuss a problem, an increase of about 3 per cent from 2016. For those who met with village heads, however, some 83 per cent rated the meeting as successful, down from 85 per cent in 2016.

Results also show good progress made by all cities and provinces in public administrative procedures. Overall, citizens said they were more satisfied with procedures at local one-stop shops in three out of the four services the PAPI measures (certification, construction permits, and personal documents), and reported a significant increase in accessing one-stop windows for land use rights certificates, up from 79 per cent in 2016 to 86 per cent in 2017. The most striking finding was a remarkable closing of the gender gap in land use titling. In 2016, 18 per cent fewer women in rural areas reported having their names on land use certificates compared to men, but in 2017 the difference fell by half, to 9 per cent.

The downward trend in housing land seizures continued, with less than 7 per cent reporting land seized in 2017, down from an average of about 9 per cent prior to 2013. Nonetheless, a more concerning trend relates to satisfaction with compensation for land seized. While 36 per cent thought the compensation was at a fair market value in 2014, the percentage dropped to 21 per cent in 2017.

Finally, the 2017 PAPI report looks at overall city and provincial performance. Scores for all of the country’s 63 cities and provinces increased in 2017 compared to 2016, and seven saw significant improvements. Among the best performers were Quang Binh, Ben Tre and Bac Lieu, which also scored in the best performing groups for five out of the six dimensions. Bac Lieu, Quang Ninh and Tra Vinh achieved increases above 8 per cent, with Bac Lieu making the most impressive movement upwards. Ha Nam, Ba Ria Vung Tau, Long An, and Vinh Long also saw their scores rise. Comparing the 2016 and 2017 aggregate scores in the best performing group, eleven provinces (Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Binh Dinh, Ben Tre and Can Tho) were stable, while Bac Giang, Phu Tho, Da Nang and Dong Thap fell back into the “high average” group and Hung Yen dropped into the “low average” group.

Even in the best performing cities and provinces, however, local governments need to do more to satisfy their citizens’ expectations, as there is a significant gap between the highest score - 39.52 points - and the maximum possible score of 60 for all six dimensions. There was also a significant gap between the highest and the lowest scores in 2017, revealing differences in how cities and provinces have been performing.

The 2017 PAPI results point to the need for a continued emphasis on inclusive and equitable development, on transparency, and on public consultation with citizens.

The PAPI is a collaborative effort between the Center for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES), the Center for Research and Training of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF-CRT), Real-Time Analytics, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Funding for PAPI has been generously provided by the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) for 2011-2017, by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia for 2018-2021, by the Embassy of Ireland for 2018, and by the United Nations and the UNDP in Vietnam since 2009.

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