2018 PAPI Report: Citizens more satisfied with public services

The 2018 Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) Report, released on April 2, reveals that general improvement in provincial and local government performance, with citizens reporting less corruption in health care and education, greater satisfaction with most basic public services, and more interactions with local officials.

Scores also rose for processing of construction permits and personal documents.

Over 14,300 citizens randomly selected from all 63 provinces were interviewed for the 2018 PAPI Report. The index assesses citizen experiences with national and local government performance in governance, public administration and public service delivery.

This year’s report marks 10 years since the first PAPI research began in 2009. Over the past decade, more than 117,000 Vietnamese citizens from all parts of the country have contributed to making PAPI a widely recognized source of objective, up-to-date data on local government performance for the interest of all Vietnamese citizens.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. in Viet Nam said: “After ten years, PAPI continues to serve as a powerful instrument to promote good governance in Viet Nam. The heart of PAPI is very close to United Nations Development Program (UNDP)’s mission – putting people at the center of development. PAPI provides a tool for listening to citizens, to their expectations of governance, and in that way enables them to participate in the governance process. Over the years PAPI has become a model instrument for participatory governance that other countries have sought to emulate as a key indicator for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on peaceful, just, inclusive societies.”

However, the most important determinant of overall satisfaction with governance and public administration performance tends to be control of corruption in the public sector. In 2018, fewer citizens said they need to pay a bribe for state employment, public health care, primary education, or construction permits, continuing the steady decline seen in 2017. In addition, while nearly 60% of citizens said that corruption at the commune level had decreased in the past three years, the proportion dropped to less than 50% when asked about corruption at the national level.

As gender equality is a high priority in Viet Nam’s sustainable development agenda, the 2018 report examines public views on gender and leadership positions. Commenting on gender and leadership, Ambassador to Viet Nam Mr. Craig Chittick added that “The 2018 PAPI findings highlight an important opportunity for more women to be elected to political positions, while also suggesting that efforts are needed to end societal stigma against women in elected positions, especially among female voters”.

Citizens reported several positive trends related to political participation at the local level in 2018. Results indicate a consistent decrease in the number of citizens reporting that they were asked by a village chief or local official to contribute to a project: about 50% of those contributing said they did so volunteering in 2017 and 2018, which was up from an average of about 45% prior to 2017.

The dimension of transparency in local decision-making also saw significant improvement, including higher satisfaction with transparency of commune budgets and expenditures. These are important improvements that speak to increasing openness at local level.

In the vertical accountability dimension, a greater number of citizens reported interactions with village and commune authorities in 2018 than in 2017.

Regarding provision of basic public service, the 2018 results reveal a striking divergence. The public health sub-dimension, for example, saw continued improvement, largely thanks to the increased number of respondents accessing health insurance, with the coverage rate rising from 80% in 2017 to 87% in 2018. Scores in the basic infrastructure sub-dimension, which includes garbage collection, road quality, and electrification, also improved dramatically in 2018.

When asked about the most important issues facing the country, poverty was again the most important issue for citizens in 2018.

In response to this emerging challenge, the 2018 PAPI survey included a series of questions to better understand citizen’s view and performances related environmental governance.

Results also show good progress by all provinces in public administrative procedures. Consistent improvement over time is evident for all four public administrative services, which include certification services as well as application procedures for construction permits, land use right certificates (LURCs), and personal documents especially.

The downward trend in land seizures stalled in 2018, with citizens reporting a slight increase compared to 2017. In case where residential land was taken, the degree of satisfaction with the compensation slightly increased, but remained less than 40%.

Finally, the 2018 PAPI Report looks at overall provincial performances. The 2018 results show that each province has its own strengths and weaknesses, as none of the 63 provinces excelled in all eight dimensions. In addition, there is a significant disparity between the highest total provincial score of 47.05 points and the potential maximum score of 80 points (on the scale of 10-80 points for all eight dimensions). This gap suggests there is room for further reforms and better implementation of policy by local governments as they strive to be more open, transparent, accountable, and responsive, and to act with integrity.

The 2018 PAPI includes a variety of changes to better reflect governance and public administration performance in Viet Nam over time. PAPI continues to be refined and renewed – to make it a more useful tool to inform the government of policy choices for the benefit of Vietnamese citizens from all walks of life.

“I think PAPI serves as an “open platform” for citizens to express their interests and concerns, for central and local government agencies to better understand citizens’ expectations, and for public agencies and citizens to work together towards a facilitating Government, a Government of the people, by the people and for the people,” said Dr Pham Van Tan, Vice President and General Secretary of the Viet Nam Union for Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), the parent organization of the Center for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES), a key PAPI partner.

VGP 

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