Governance needs to improve

April, 13/2016 - 11:03

The Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) report released yesterday reveals declines at the national level in five of the six governance dimensions the survey measures.

HÀ NỘI Viet Nam News - — The Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) report released yesterday reveals declines at the national level in five of the six governance dimensions the survey measures, including transparency, corruption and public administrative procedures.

The 2015 PAPI was released by the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES), the Centre for Research and Training of the Việt Nam Fatherland Front, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

At the launch of the report, UN Resident Coordinator Pratibha Mehta said: “With the National Assembly and people’s council elections taking place next month, the report provides an effective tool for the new administration to assess governance and public administration reforms over the last five years - and a benchmark for future performance.”

The launch of this year’s report proved timely, in light of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which UN member states, including Viet Nam, recently committed to achieve by 2030. Report findings are particularly useful for achieving Goal 16: developing accountable institutions, ensuring inclusive decision-making, and reducing corruption, according to Mehta.

Almost 14,000 randomly selected citizens nationwide were interviewed for the 2015 PAPI report, which assesses citizen experiences with national and subnational governance, public administration, and public service delivery.

Of the six governance dimensions which the survey measures, the most substantial drop was in the transparency index, which fell by more than seven per cent, compared with 2014.

As many as 46 per cent of those surveyed believed that truly poor households were not included in the survey results.

In 2015 there was also less publicity about local land-use plans and land prices, and fewer opportunities for citizens to comment on these plans.

Corruption decreased three per cent last year, compared with 2014. Respondents expressed more concern about corruption in the public sector and in public service delivery. And they were more worried about corruption and nepotism in public sector employment. Only 37 per cent said that their local government was serious about fighting corruption.

There were also significant declines in the participation of residents at the local level and regarding vertical accountability.

The public administrative procedures dimension also saw a slight decrease. Of the four public administrative services measured, the quality of services related to land use rights certificates scored the lowest of any year since 2011. More than 22 per cent of those surveyed said they had to wait for more than 100 days to get land use rights paperwork they requested - rather than the 30 day wait mandated by law.

Only public service delivery dimension scores increased modestly.

The 2015 PAPI survey featured a new question about the three most important issues facing the country. Poverty and hunger were identified as most important, with 18 per cent of those surveryed voting for this issue.

Associate professor Đặng Ngọc Dinh, director of the CECODES, said that seven provinces substantially improved their performance scores over the last five years, while 13 provinces witnessed significant drops.

Nam Định, Quảng Trị, Hà Tĩnh, Long An provinces and Đà Nẵng City had been top performers in overall provincial performance every year since 2011.

Better performing provinces were found in the north-eastern, central and south-eastern regions. Since 2011, the poorest performing ones were along the northern border area and in the south-central and Central Highlands regions.

According to Lê Văn Lân, deputy chairman of the North-Western Region Steering Committee, PAPI is a large-scale, rigorous and compelling piece of research, which has increasingly proved its significance in improving provincial performance in governance and public administration in all 63 provinces.

Many provinces using PAPI to reflect on their performance have found measures to address shortcomings and improve governance and public administration services.

“For the north-western region, provincial PAPI scores are generally low. This is partly because of poorer socioeconomic development and lower levels of education among the population in the region. PAPI needs to provide additional analysis of the contexts and conditions of each province, especially those in the north-western region. And the way PAPI findings are presented needs to be simplified, so that they are easier to understand and remember,” said Lân.

Trần Thị Bích, head of the Statistics Department, National Economics University, said: “As one of the pioneering indexes measuring provincial performance in governance and public administration in Việt Nam, PAPI helps policymakers review their performance in comparison with other provinces, and provides a wealth of data for national and international researchers interested in understanding public administration.”

But PAPI would still need to be improved to serve the needs of the research community, she said.

For example, there were discontinuities in experiences of citizen participation, transparency, vertical accountability, control of corruption, public administrative procedures and public service delivery between urban and rural citizens. So questions reflecting these differences should be designed. Sampling should also be designed in such a way that when urban and rural weights are applied, the voices of urban and rural citizens can be reflected in a representative manner for a particular province.

Respondents should also be able to select responses that express more varied levels of satisfaction, rather than just satisfied or dissatisfied, she said. — VNS