PAPI 2022: People Care a Lot about Poverty, Corruption and Land Law Amendment

8:33:02 AM | 5/3/2023

The Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) 2022 report assesses that the Vietnamese economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, but concerns about the impact of the pandemic remain, along with growing worry about the effectiveness of anti-corruption at the local level in the context of people's increasing expectations for effective governance and amendments to the Land Law.

Speakers at the launch of PAPI 2022 report

Big concern about poverty

PAPI measures eight content indicators: citizen participation at the grassroots level; publicity and transparency in decision-making; accountability to the people; corruption control in the public sector; public administrative procedures; public service provision; environmental management; and electronic governance.

According to the report, Vietnam's efforts in 2022 to overcome the socio-economic impacts of the two years of the pandemic have helped increase people's confidence in the economic conditions of households and the country in the last year. Notably, up to 66.1% of respondents rated the national economy as "good" in 2022 – an increase of 19.4% from a year earlier. The percentage of people who rate the country's economic conditions as "poor" decreased by 13.7%, from 19.8% in 2021 to 6.1% in 2022. Similarly, at the household level, the proportion of people who consider their household economic conditions to be “poor” decreased from 15.3% in 2021 to 11.4% in 2022.

Although 56% of respondents claimed their household economic conditions were better in 2022, up from 52% in 2021, this is still the lowest rate since 2012. Similarly, those who considered their household economic conditions to be poor rose to their highest level since 2012, excluding 2021. These numbers suggest that many people still have concerns about the impact of the pandemic, with ethnic minorities and women being hardest hit due to higher rates of poverty and unstable employment in these two groups.

The shift to the post-pandemic period was also reflected in people's opinions when they were asked about the most important issues that need to be addressed by the State in 2022. The percentage of people choosing health and insurance as the most important issue fell sharply from 23.84% in the PAPI 2021 survey to 6.38% in the PAPI 2022 survey. Poverty returned to the top with 22.13% of respondents choosing poverty as the most important issue in 2022. Poverty has been in the top concern lists since 2015, except in 2021 when Vietnam was strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Government promotes anti-corruption as a focus of this term, the results of the 2022 PAPI survey show that public attitudes towards this issue are changing. The proportion of respondents who thought corruption was an important issue that needs to be addressed by the State increased by 4.8% in 2022, compared to 2021. This trend is consistent with the findings of the Control of corruption in the public sector Indicator, with the number of citizens reporting the effectiveness of local government in controlling corruption decreasing for the first time since 2016. The reason for this decline is the percentage of people who thought that they must have a close relationship with state officials to get a job in a state agency has increased and the proportion of people who have to 'share expenses' when carrying out the procedures for registration of land use rights has also increased.

Publicity and transparency in decision-making at the local level help early warning of the risk of wrongdoing, thus making an important contribution to reducing corruption. But the results of the PAPI 2022 survey showed that there have not been many positive changes in this important aspect of public governance.

The land price list needs to be updated regularly

To contribute to the 2023 law-making and enforcement program, the PAPI 2022 survey also analyzes the results of citizen surveys on a number of issues to provide evidence for the discussion of amendments to the Land Law 2013.

The Land Law 2013 includes provisions related to land sales, confiscation, and compensation transactions. The PAPI index explores people's perceptions and experiences about the effectiveness of local land governance, thereby analyzing a number of criteria to assess equality in the application of some provisions of the law in practice. An important finding is that the percentage of households whose agricultural land has been acquired increased to 4.1% in 2022, higher than the previous year. In hamlet units where at least 30% of residents are engaged in agriculture, the proportion of respondents reporting agricultural land acquisition increased from 5.4% in 2021 to 6.5% in 2022. This shows that agricultural land acquisition in rural areas remains an emerging issue that needs to be addressed with stricter regulations on transparency and equal access to land information in the revised Land Law.

People believe that compensation for land acquisition is still too low and this is one of the common causes leading to complaints related to land acquisition. There is a big difference between the selling price of land use rights (land price) in the market and the land price officially issued by local authorities. This shows that from the perspective of the people, local authorities have not taken into account the market price when determining the compensation price for land acquisition. Therefore, local land price lists need to be updated regularly, rather than every four years, to keep up with rapidly changing residential land use rights transaction prices, especially in urban areas.

The survey also shows that people are less aware of land prices. Up to 70% of respondents do not know the market price of land or do not know the official land price issued by the locality. This may be the result of limited awareness and lack of participation of people in local land use planning.

The Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) is a tool for citizens to participate in monitoring the effectiveness of the government in policy implementation at the grassroots level. After the pilot survey in 2009 and the implementation on a larger scale in 2010, the PAPI survey has been conducted nationwide since 2011. With the highest number of respondents ever, reaching 16,117 people randomly selected from all 63 provinces in Vietnam, the PAPI 2022 Report provides invaluable data and information on the performance of governments at all levels during the first two years of the 2021-2026 term and contributes to the development of important policies and laws in 2023. During the past 14 years, up to 178,243 people randomly selected nationwide have participated in assessing the effectiveness of governance and administration from direct interaction with governments at all levels through PAPI research.

Regarding the effectiveness of e-governance, local governments at all levels still have a lot of work to do to make people use more public online services, commensurate with the large proportion of people using the internet today. In 2022, the percentage of people who said that they can perform, at least partially online, procedures for certification of local authorities or procedures for land use right certificates was lower than in 2021. Regarding the use of the National Public Service Portal, the number of respondents who said they have used or have a user profile on the National Public Service Portal is still very low: less than 5% of respondents said they used the National Service Portal for various purposes and about 3% have established user profiles on this portal.

Anh Mai (Vietnam Business Forum)