Official Launch of 2022 PAPI Report

April 12, 2023
UNDP Viet Nam

Dr. Nguyễn Hữu Dũng, Standing Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee; 

Excellency Mr. Andrew Goledzinowski, Australian Ambassador to Viet Nam;

Mr. Conor Finn, Deputy Head of Mission, the Embassy of Ireland in Viet Nam;

Excellencies, distinguished leaders and representatives of central state agencies, ministries and the 63 provinces;

Excellencies, Ambassadors and other representatives of diplomatic missions;

Representatives from the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, mass organizations, non-governmental organizations and the media; 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to the official launch of the 2022 Report on the Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, better known to many of you as PAPI. Although I am relatively new to Viet Nam, PAPI is not new to me. PAPI’s reputation has preceded it. And I consider it a great honor to be launching the 2022 edition of the PAPI report, and look forward to today’s event and to future PAPI editions.

It started with a musing 14 years ago.  What if we could capture, with evidence and rigorous quantitative and qualitative analysis, citizen’s perceptions of provincial governance and the performance of public service delivery. That could provide valuable input to national and provincial governments in the delivery of their mandate and in responding to the priorities of the government. And so it was that 14 years later, we have a treasure trove of data that supports the continuous efforts to improve the performance of local government.

Over the course of its development, PAPI’s research programme has grown and adapted to emerging development priorities becoming the largest annual, citizen-centric, nationwide policy monitoring tool in the country. Over the years, PAPI has captured the experiences and perceptions of more than one hundred and seventy-eight thousand citizens from diverse demographic backgrounds to benchmark the performance and quality of policy implementation and service delivery of all 63 provincial governments. 

As many of you know, PAPI’s mission is to enhance the quality of government functions, the responsiveness, transparency, and accountability of public institutions as well as to monitor progress towards the realization of important development and policy agendas in Viet Nam. With hundreds of data points collected from citizens as end-users of government services, PAPI helps identify policy and practice gaps to inform policy-making and sectoral agencies. This generates momentum towards improved government performance.

Indeed, we believe the data shared today will deliver invaluable insights to further optimize and actualize the 2023 legislative agenda, which also covers important PAPI policy focus areas such as the 2013 Land Law amendment. The findings also serve as baselines for monitoring the 2022 Law on Grassroots Democracy Implementation, which will be effective from July 2023. 

Ladies and Gentlemen! 

This 2022 PAPI Report provides a source of reliable evidence-based data for central and local authorities to review their performance in the key areas of governance, public administration and public service delivery. It presents feedback from more than 16,000 respondents randomly selected from all 63 provinces, of whom 1,186 are temporary residents—both record numbers in 14 years of PAPI surveys. 

Viet Nam’s economic recovery was robust in 2022 as conditions returned to normal following the lockdowns and other social distancing measures put in place to control the spread of Covid-19 in the second half of 2021. However, price inflation accelerated, especially in the second half of the year, because of higher oil and food prices resulting from war in the Ukraine. The inflation rate peaked in January 2023 at 4.9%, which is a moderate level of price rises in the Vietnamese context. 

This context certainly affected how citizens perceived household and national priorities that require central and local governments’ responses. 

As you will hear from the presentations of our PAPI Research Team this morning, the 2022 PAPI Report provides a wide range of key insights into how governments at different levels delivered on their commitments to serve citizens during their second year of the 2021-2026 term. Please allow me to highlight a few key findings from the Report that stood out for me: 

First: Citizens’ confidence in the national and household economy in 2022 rebounded resoundingly from a record poor showing in 2021. However, COVID-19 scarring is still visible, with other indicators pointing to economic conditions having yet to completely return to normal. While respondents were more likely to say their households’ economic conditions were better in 2022 than in 2021, aside from this latter year the results were still the lowest since 2012. This pessimism is particularly evident among ethnic minorities and women who generally perceive the economy in more negative terms given the higher prevalence of poverty among the former and vulnerable employment among the latter.

Second: Poverty and hunger are once again the issue of greatest concern in 2022 after health and health insurance took over in 2021 amid the health crisis. The next four top issues of greatest concern for citizens in 2022 were economic growth; jobs and employment; road quality; and corruption. 

Third: Despite the high-profile national anti-corruption campaign, citizens expressed a greater level of concern with corruption in 2022 than a year earlier. In fact, if we look at the PAPI dimension of Control of Corruption in the Public Sector overall, this is the first downward trend in local government performance since 2015. Drilling further into this dimension, equity in State employment and willingness to fight corruption in governments at the provincial and grassroots levels remain the greatest concerns for citizens. Our respondents in 2022 once again had stronger confidence in the central government’s anti-corruption efforts than in the integrity in recruiting local government staff and willingness of local governments to address corruption at the provincial level. This points to citizens’ expectation that local governments take bolder efforts in reducing nepotism when recruiting civil servants and removing petty corruption in public services.     

Fourth: The 2022 PAPI results also show a mixed picture of governance and public administration performance at the national level. Progress in Participation at Local Levels and E-Governance contrasts with stagnation in Transparency in Local Decision-making and Vertical Accountability Towards Citizens and Public Administrative Procedures as well as declines in Control of Corruption in the Public Sector; Public Service Delivery and Environmental Governance. The research team will spotlight these trends in greater detail shortly, but I wish to highlight a few points regarding Participation at Local Levels, Transparency in Local Decision-making and E-governance.   

  • i. In terms of political participation at the local level, social bias against candidates with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity as well as those with disabilities for elected representative positions remains strong. While the 2022 survey result of more than 40 percent indicates a strong foundation to build on, the fact remains that more than half of total respondents were not willing to vote for LGBTIQ+ or persons with disability candidates to elected offices. The results suggest stronger inclusive election policies need to be in place to support LGBTIQ+ and persons with disabilities representation, as has been the case to champion women in politics.
  • ii. In terms of transparency in local decision-making, since poverty reduction and land are high priority issues for our respondents, I would like to echo the call for improvements in the publicity and accuracy of lists of poor households at the grassroots level, and of land use plans and land pricing frameworks at the provincial and district levels. Citizens’ confidence in these two governance areas have great impacts on ensuring both social security and social cohesion. In particular, as the National Assembly is discussing amendments to the 2013 Land Law, we hope the revised law will provide for effective mechanisms to strengthen local governments’ mandates in disclosing land use master plans, land use plans and land pricing frameworks for citizens at all social strata to participate in and be informed in a timely fashion in conformity with mechanisms set forth in the 2016 Law on Access to Information.    
  • iii. Turning to provincial performance in e-governance, very low scores were again registered across the country despite significant efforts to accelerate Viet Nam’s digital transformation over the last three years. Nonetheless, the 2022 PAPI data shows a significant increase in the percentage of respondents who used the national e-service portal in 2022, from below 4 percent in 2021 to 4.85 percent in 2022. Of this number, as we have learned from our action research in six provinces over the past two years with the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, e-service portals should be designed in a way that everyone, not just civil servants, can use. We hope to continue working with central and local government agencies to experiment and accelerate user-first e-services in Viet Nam, as we have been supporting provinces of Ha Giang, Tay Ninh and Thua Thien-Hue.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

As you walked in the lobby this morning, you may have noticed that at this official launch, we also have exhibitions of all the initiatives that the PAPI programme has embarked on to promote inclusive innovation initiatives by provinces, land transparency and citizen-centric e-services. I hope provincial leaders attending today’s event have enjoyed and gained food for thought and inspiration for action from other provinces’ initiatives and our performance reviews. 

Allow me to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important contributions of numerous partners and individuals that have made PAPI possible. They include the Vietnamese citizens, the PAPI Advisory Board, public authorities at all levels and the media. 

We warmly acknowledge and thank our development partners, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia and the Embassy of Ireland, for their support and funding of the PAPI research programme.  

We look forward to the continued much valued support from all our partners to ensure that PAPI remains a vibrant, real-time, evidenced-based tool that promotes dialogue and the sharing of opinions and aspirations of citizens essential to an inclusive future Viet Nam where no one is left behind. 

Thank you. Xin cám ơn!