|Binh Duong Province's Administration Centre works on corporate documents. Vulnerable groups in the country, including women and ethnic minorities, are none too happy with the quality of public services and local governance. — VNA/VNS Photo Duong Chi Tuong
HA NOI (VNS) — Vulnerable groups in the country, including women and ethnic minorities, are less satisfied with the quality of public services and local governance than fellow citizens, a survey has found.
The survey, called the Viet Nam Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) 2013, found that respondents largely agree that bribes are required to receive good public services.
For example, 42 per cent believe bribes are required to get jobs in the public sector. A similar percentage said the same about receiving adequate medical care in public district hospitals and 30 per cent said they must pay extra to secure land-use rights.
The survey also found that while citizens believe their local officials are gradually becoming more serious about controlling corruption (from 34 per cent in 2011 to 38 per cent in 2013), one in four perceive no serious effort and nearly two-thirds don't know anything about these efforts.
It said men tend to experience substantially better governance than women and Kinh people report better governance than ethnic minorities.
Notably, eight of 10 citizens perceive their current economic situation to be "normal" or "very good" but this did not translate into satisfaction with governance and public administration at different levels, researchers said.
UN Resident Co-ordinator Pratibha Mehta said the report showed that quality of services is uneven not only across but also within provinces.
"This warrants a higher-level policy attention to the needs of these vulnerable groups," she said.
"PAPI demonstrates the critical importance of citizens articulating their priorities and influencing policies that affect their lives," she added.
UNDP Policy Advisor for Viet Nam, Jairo Acuna-Alfaro, noted that there was barely any improvement in authorities publicising land use plans.
As many as eight out of 10 citizens were unaware of land-use plans and in extreme cases, this reduced to just 1.6 per cent of respondents in a locality.
PAPI 2013 found that the five biggest concerns among the respondents were environmental pollution, traffic accidents, drug abuse, food hygiene and corruption.
Major drivers of dissatisfaction with administrative procedures are the lack of respect shown towards applicants and lack of professionalism among civil servants, the report said.
People at the centre
Nguyen Huu Hoai, chairman of Quang Binh People's Committee, said the province always strives to put people at the centre of all administrative reform efforts.
"We want to ensure that the people's voices are heard in the decision-making process right at the commune and village level," Hoai said.
The province scored first in citizens' participation at local levels, transparency related to commune budgets, poverty lists and land-use plan and pricing, and ranked second in public administrative procedures and delivery of public services.
In addition to Quang Binh, citizens in Quang Tri, Nam Dinh, Da Nang and Ha Tinh also seemed relatively satisfied with the quality of public administrative procedures.
The poorest performers in public service delivery were scattered across northern mountainous region, Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands), and south central and southern provinces.
PAPI is a joint policy research initiative implemented by the Viet Nam Fatherland Front, the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies and the United Nations Development Programme.
It was first piloted in three provinces in 2009. It looks at six areas: participation at local levels, transparency, accountability, control of corruption in the public sector, public administrative procedures and public service delivery.
UNDP said so far 22 provinces have issued decisions and actions plans that address issues identified in PAPI.
For its third annual survey, PAPI talked to more than 13,890 people from 800 villages across 207 districts. — VNS