Review of Local Governments’ Performance in Disclosure of District Land Use Plans and Provincial Land Pricing Frameworks Online in 2023

Opening Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative Ramla Khalidi

March 12, 2024

Ms Ramla Khalidi, Resident Representative, UNDP in Viet Nam

UNDP in Viet Nam

Dr. Lê Đặng Trung, CEO, Real-Time Analytics
Ms. Tống Khánh Linh, Deputy Director in charge of the Center for Education Promotion and Empowerment of Women; 
Distinguished panellists;
Representatives from provinces and districts across Viet Nam;
Participants from central state agencies and ministries;
Representatives from media agencies; 
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you to this discussion on the performance of local governments in disclosing critical, land-related information on-line in 2023. 

This is the third year that we meet to discuss this important dimension of citizens’ access to information. 

When we met in March last year, we talked about information asymmetry around local land plans and land pricing frameworks. We agreed this asymmetry was one of the key triggers for land-related complaints from citizens, especially when there are changes to land-use planning by local governments and when land seizures and compensation are involved. 

We also saw how this asymmetry has, unfortunately, been a persistent feature of citizens’ experience of local governance. Data from the Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, PAPI, shows that, from 2011 to 2022, citizens’ access to land information has been constantly low. Every year, less than 20% of all respondents said they were aware of local land plans, and less than 40% knew about local land pricing frameworks.

We also discussed how making this information readily available on-line could greatly increase transparency and access. Indeed, our research has found that searching for land price frames on-line has been the keyway through which citizens try to access this information. Few try to get it from the local governments’ information boards. Considering that in 2022 76% of citizens in Viet Nam had access to the internet at home and 87% had smartphones, on-line access to crucial land information seems an obvious and easy way to increase transparency. 

This is why, for the past three years and in the framework of the PAPI research programme, we have been measuring the extent to which local governments make land information available on-line. 

The good news is that in 2023, more provincial and district government agencies disclosed their approved 10-year land master plans, annual land use plans and land pricing frames online compared to 2021 and 2022. 

This is encouraging. It also suggests that our annual review over the past three years has helped local governments track their performance in implementing provisions of the 2013 Land Law and the 2016 Law on Access to Information related to land information disclosure to the public. This, in turn, has spurred action, which is very positive.

Having said that, this year’s review also showed that there is still room for improvement when it comes to local governments’ response to citizens’ legitimate requests for access to land information. Of the 561 district-level state agencies that received experimental letters of request for land information (leaving aside 144 districts in the control group), only 133 agencies adequately responded to the requests by the research team. The rest either did not respond or responded without providing the requested information.

The transparent disclosure of land information is crucial in mitigating the risks of land-related complaints and conflicts. We hope that today’s findings and expert discussion will provide useful data and recommendations to help local governments further improve their performance in ensuring access to land information for all citizens. In so doing, they will be better equipped to meet relevant obligations stipulated in the 2013 Land Law - soon to be replaced by the 2024 Land Law -, the 2016 Law on Access to Information, and the 2022 Law on Implementation of Grassroots Democracy. 

This becomes particularly important as we approach the enforcement of the 2024 Land Law from January next year. We hope that today’s results can specifically inform the development of by-laws to guide the new law’s implementation.

I would like to thank the research team from the Centre for Education Promotion and Empowerment of Women (CEPEW), Real-Time Analytics and UNDP for their hard work on this year’s review. 

I also extend our thanks to our development partners, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia and the Embassy of Ireland, for their continued support and funding of this initiative through the PAPI research programme.

I wish you all a productive discussion. 

Thank you. Xin cám ơn!