|Enterprises register via a one-stop procedure at the Ha Noi Department of Planning and Investment. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Ky
HA NOI (VNS)— Many citizens perceive bribery to be on the rise and still widespread in the public sector, according to the results of the Viet Nam Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) 2012 released yesterday.
More than 14,000 people nationwide were interviewed for the second annual survey, which found that 44 per cent believed bribes are required to get jobs in the public sector, up from 29 per cent in 2011.
A similar increase was reported for accessing adequate medical care (up from 31 per cent in 2011 to 42 per cent in 2012) and securing land-use rights (32 per cent in 2012 compared with 21 per cent in 2011).
UN Resident Co-ordinator Pratibha Mehta said during its transition towards becoming a more prosperous and democratic society, Viet Nam's public administration system must play a key role in poverty reduction, which cannot be fulfilled by economic growth alone.
"Wealthier, better-educated citizens demand higher quality, more efficient administrative services from their government, less bureaucracy and in particular, no corruption in the public sector," she said.
The survey also found that on average Vietnamese citizens have experienced some improvements in local government and public services since 2011.
Positive changes in perceptions have been recorded in areas such as corruption control, transparency, public service delivery and accountability.
However, UNDP Policy Advisor for Viet Nam Jairo Acuna-Alfaro noted that the level of optimism did not translate into awareness of Government policies and there were fewer opportunities for citizens to participate at local levels.
According to the survey, eight out of ten citizens at local level were unaware of land-use plans, while securing land-use rights certificates remained problematic.
The average price paid to obtain land-use rights is VND123,000 (US$6) but ranges from VND104 million ($5,070) to just a few thousand dong, the survey found. "If you think of the poor farmers on the outskirts of Ha Noi, VND123,000 is not an insignificant amount," he said.
PAPI 2012 also shows that a significant amount of corruption goes unreported, either because the process of reporting is too costly or citizens do not trust the procedures in place, thus indicating that citizens in many cases accept that bribery is necessary to circumvent burdensome procedures.
Nationwide, only 33 per cent are aware of the existence of the people's inspection board.
The report also reveals major drivers of dissatisfaction with administrative procedures, with lack of respect shown towards applicants and lack of professionalism of civil servants the two most significant.
Nguyen Duc Chinh, standing vice chairman of central Quang Tri Province People's Committee, said the province acknowledged that monitoring and inspecting were key in ensuring the quality of public service delivery.
The province scores in the top five this year in the area of transparency, which measures the publication and dissemination of poverty lists, communal budgets, plus land-use plans and prices.
"We acknowledge that it's not easy to ensure the highest level of professionalism for all of our civil servants and that they could intentionally increase the burden for citizens to get some personal benefits," Chinh said. "The higher the frequency of inspection, the better it will get."
Notably, citizens in Yen Bai, Da Nang, Lao Cai, Quang Binh and Kon Tum seemed relatively satisfied with the quality of public administrative procedures.
In terms of public service delivery, Da Nang, Hai Phong, HCM City and Ha Noi were in the top third, as they were in 2011. The poorest performers were scattered across northern mountainous, Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands), south central and southern provinces.
Central and southern provinces seemed to be better at mitigating corruption in the public sector, such as Tien Giang, Soc Trang, Vinh Long and Quang Tri.
PAPI is a joint policy research initiative implemented by the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies, the National Assembly Standing Committee's Commission on People's Petitions and the United Nations Development Programme.
PAPI was first piloted in three provinces in 2009.
Organizers said they planned to organise discussions at the provincial level and track how provinces implement action plans to improve citizens' experiences of public administration and services. — VNS