Survey gives citizens unique opportunity to voice their concerns with governance and public administration

14 May 2013

image © United Nations Viet Nam\2010\Aidan Dockery

Ha Noi – The second annual results of an innovative governance survey released today warn that bribery remains widespread in the public sector, and that many citizens perceive bribery to be on the rise. Nearly 14,000 people were interviewed in the latest survey of the Viet Nam Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, PAPI, which was conducted by CECODES in collaboration with the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, with support from the UN. PAPI is the largest ever survey tool for measuring the quality of public services in Viet Nam.

When asked if bribes are required to get jobs in the public sector, fifty percent more respondents said yes than in 2011 (up from 29% to 44%). A similar increase was reported with accessing medical care (an increase from 31% in 2011 to 42% in 2012) and securing land-use rights (32% in 2012 compared with 21% in 2011).
 
PAPI 2012 also reveals that citizens continue to demand more accountability, better control of corruption and better quality administrative and public services. “Wealthier, better-educated citizens demand higher quality, more efficient administrative services from their government, less bureaucracy and in particular no corruption. As Viet Nam transitions towards a more prosperous, democratic society and a thriving market economy, the public administration system will need to play a key role in poverty reduction, a goal that cannot be fulfilled by economic growth alone” said Pratibha Metha, UN Resident Coordinator.

However in the area of land administration, consistent with findings from two previous rounds of PAPI surveys, PAPI 2012 finds that eight out of ten citizens at the local level are unaware of land use plans. Securing land use rights certificates remains problematic, and scores the lowest among the four types of administrative procedures measured.

One new development in PAPI 2012 is that it estimates the frequency and size of informal payments in critical areas. With substantial sums being demanded and paid, bribes are a major problem for many people. The survey offers a lower and upper range of results. For example the more conservative estimate shows that less than 20% of citizens pay about 123,000 VND for a Land use certificate in addition to the official fee, while the more upper range warns that as many as  60% could be paying as much as 818,000 VND for exactly the same service.

PAPI 2012 also shows that a significant amount of corruption goes unreported, either because the process of reporting it is too costly, or because citizens do not trust the procedures in place. This indicates that in many cases citizens simply accept that bribery is necessary to be able to circumvent burdensome procedures.

The report also reveals major drivers of dissatisfaction with administrative procedures, with lack of respect shown towards applicants, and the lack of professionalism of civil ser  vants being the two most significant. For respondents who perceived civil servants to be incompetent, satisfaction with being granted land use right certificate procedures fell by 65%. Those who experienced a lack of respect from civil servants were 62% less satisfied with the administrative service than those who were treated more respectfully. Respondents to the survey also believe that personal connections will be a much significant factor in gaining employment in the public sector, rather than on merit.

In terms of health service at the district level, the PAPI 2012 survey finds that the two main drivers of satisfaction are the quality of treatment received as well as the level of attention received by patients from public district hospitals. Meanwhile, in terms of public primary education, an important driver of satisfaction is the skills and qualifications of teachers.

On a more positive note, respondents experienced slightly better local governance and public services in 2012 compared to 2011. Four out of six areas where citizens experienced some level of improvement are corruption, transparency, public service delivery and vertical accountability. In each area the average score slightly increased in 2012 compared to 2011.

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