Economic Sector

Last updated: Friday, February 15, 2019


Corruption Seen to Ebb Away

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2018

Findings from the 2017 Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) Report, recently released by the UNDP, show a significant turnaround in citizen’s perceptions and experiences with corruption in the public sector. Of the six governance areas measured in 2017, the greatest gain was seen in control of corruption in the public sector. Citizens reported improvements in both their perceptions and personal experiences in corruption resistance.

More women added their names to land use titles, and pessimism rose among the poorest citizens about their future economic prospects. Health insurance coverage expanded and fewer reported land seizures. However, setbacks included lower satisfaction with compensation for land seized, and persistent concerns about poverty among citizens of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Overall, citizens reported improvement in five of the six areas of governance and public administration that make up the index.

Over 14,000 citizens randomly selected from all 63 provinces were interviewed for the 2017 PAPI, which assesses citizen experiences with national and local government performance in governance, public administration and public service delivery.

Mr Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam, said, “The 2017 survey results are mixed and reveal both encouraging and worrying trends. Particularly noteworthy is the reversal in the downward trend since 2013 in control of corruption in the public sector. Citizens report improvements in both their perceptions and personal experiences in corruption resistance. However, the PAPI scores are still below the levels found in 2012, so although the direction of change is positive, much work remains to be done to fight corruption - to ensure that the findings of the 2017 PAPI report do not represent a temporary aberration, but signal the start of a systemic and fundamental reversal of what has been a worrying longer-term trend on corruption.”
Of the six governance areas measured in 2017, the greatest gain was seen 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 bribery when applying for land use rights certificates, down from 23 per cent in 2016, and the proportion experiencing bribery when using public district hospital services fell to 9 per cent in 2017 from 17 per cent in 2016.

In total, 33 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 score 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 by 9 per cent or more.

When asked about the most important issues facing the country, 28 per cent cited poverty as their top concern, with economic growth second and jobs third. The environment, the second most important issue in 2016, dropped to fourth. Still, concern about the environment has risen in importance since 2015, and the 2017 survey explored the relationship between these two, finding that all Vietnamese citizens, but particularly highly educated ones, are unwilling to sacrifice environmental protection for economic development.

Results also show good progress made by all 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 that PAPI measures (certification, construction permits, and personal documents performed in grassroots governments), and they 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.

In addition, the 2017 PAPI Report looks at overall provincial performance. Scores for all of the country’s 63 provinces increased in 2017 compared to 2016, and seven saw significant improvements. Among the best performers were Quang Binh, Ben Tre and Bac Lieu - provinces scoring 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 upward in the index. Ha Nam, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, and Vinh Long also saw their scores rise. When comparing 2016 and 2017 aggregate scores in the best performing group, 11 provinces (Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, 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 provinces, however, local governments need to do more to satisfy their citizens’ expectations, as there is a significant gap between the highest provincial score - 39.52 points - and the maximum possible score of 60 for all six dimensions.

The gap between the highest score (39.5 points) and the highest score (60 points) across six areas is relatively large. This shows the effectiveness of governance and public administration, and the implementation of public policy among provinces is not uniform. 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.

Quynh Anh

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