|A discussion is held in Hà Nội on Thursday to review local governments’ performance in disclosure of district land use plans and provincial land pricing frameworks. Photo courtesy of UNDP in Việt Nam|
HÀ NỘI — Though local authorities have become more responsive to citizens' requests for land information, more must be done by provincial and district authorities to meet the mandate of disclosing information online.
The findings of a recent study were announced at a discussion in Hà Nội on Thursday to review local governments’ performance in disclosure of district land use plans and provincial land pricing frameworks.
“Information asymmetry about local land plans and land pricing frameworks is one of the key triggers for land-related complaints," said UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam Ramla Khalidi at the discussion, which UNDP organised at the Việt Nam and the Center for Education Promotion and Empowerment of Women (CEPEW).
“International good practices show that when land-related information is disclosed in an open and transparent manner, and citizens have the opportunity to discuss draft land plans and price frameworks, the risks of land corruption and the prevalence of land conflicts are better controlled," she said. "As a result, citizens’ trust in local governments increases.”
To promote the disclosure of land information by state agencies, the research team emphasises the need to develop, improve and synchronise legal provisions and policies related to land information disclosure between the Law on Information Access and the Land Law.
At the same time, relevant agencies at the provincial and district levels should fully implement the disclosure of land information online in addition to face-to-face settings.
Deputy Director of CEPEW Nguyễn Thanh Phương, a representative of the research team, said: “It is necessary to add the procedure of information providing upon request of citizens as stipulated in the Law on Access to Information 2016 into the current set of administrative procedures.”
She also suggested the responsibilities of information-holding agencies in some specific cases be stipulated.
It is also important to supplement regulations when approving district-level land use master plans to ensure timeliness and synchronisation.
At the same time, it is crucial to continue strengthening information, communication and education on the Law on Access to Information 2016 and Decree No. 13/2018/ND-CP to cadres and civil servants of state agencies as well as citizens, she said.
Disclosure of land information among localities
The second round of research, part of an annual series of action research on land information disclosure in Việt Nam by local authorities from 2021, was carried out from October 2022 to February 2023 through reviewing the official websites or portals of 63 provinces and 705 districts and towns nationwide.
The level of land information disclosure of the provincial and district authorities is evaluated based on five criteria: information disclosure, searchability, timeliness of information, completeness of information and information usability.
Regarding the disclosure of the provincial land pricing frameworks, as of October 6, 2022, 41 out of 63 provinces (65 per cent) have publicly posted the land pricing frameworks on their websites, an increase of 22.2 per cent compared to the review findings in 2021.
However, information in some of these portals is stored in the form of compressed documents and archived non-systematically, leading to difficulties for users searching for land pricing frameworks.
Among localities with good practices, Bắc Giang and Phú Yên had 100 per cent of their districts disclose their 2021-2030 land use master plans.
Ninh Thuận and Kon Tum had 100 per cent of their districts disclose their 2022 annual land use plans.
Ba Bể District in Bắc Kạn Province; Đức Cơ District in Gia Lai Province; Nghĩa Lộ District in Yên Bái Province; and Krông Nô District in Đắk Nông Province used various ways to support and assure information is provided to request sender, according to the study, which is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Embassy of Ireland, and UNDP. — VNS