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Vietnamese show greater satisfaction with public services: PAPI report
Ngoc Mai 15:13, 2019/04/02
In 2018, fewer citizens said they need bribes for state employment, public health care, primary education, or construction permits, continuing the steady decline seen in 2017.
An annual report has shown general improvement in provincial and local government governance in Vietnam, with Vietnamese reporting greater satisfaction with most basic public services.

The 2018 Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) report, which was released today, revealed citizens reporting less corruption in healthcare and education, while scores also rose for processing of construction permits and personal documents. 
Most important issue facing the coutnry from citizens' perspective in 2018. Source: The 2018 PAPI report.
Most important issue facing the country from citizens' perspective in 2018. Source: The 2018 PAPI report.
However, the results show no progress in levels of bribery for obtaining land use rights certificates, or in diversion of public funds by officials, and more than half of the respondents said water quality in their locality had worsened over the past three years.

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.

“After ten years, PAPI continues to serve as a powerful instrument to promote good governance in Vietnam,” said Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP resident representative in Vietnam at the launch of report, which also marked 10 year-anniversary since the first PAPI research began in 2009. 

“PAPI provides a tool for listening to citizens, to their expectations of government, 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 SDG 16 on peaceful, just, inclusive societies," added Wiesen. 

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  bribe for state employment, public health care, primary education, or construction permits, continuing the steady decline seen in 2017. 

Concerns about bribery for land use right certificates and public officials’ diversion of public funds remained constant over the past two years. 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. Corruption also emerged as one of the top three issues of greatest concern in 2018.

As gender equality is a high priority in Vietnam’s sustainable development agenda, the 2018 report examined public views on gender and leadership positions. Findings from the research show that a majority of voters have no preference for either male or female candidates. 
National trends from 2011 to 2018 in the core PAPI. Source: The 2018 PAPI report.
National trends from 2011 to 2018 in the core PAPI. Source: The 2018 PAPI report.
Other areas that saw improvements in 2018, included political participation at the local level, transparency in local decision-making, vertical accountability and basic public services. 

When asked about the most important issues facing the country, poverty was again the most important issue for citizens in 2018. Despite rapid improvements in economic conditions in 2018, about 25% cited poverty as their top concern. The sharpest increases in 2018, however, were in concerns about corruption, economic growth, law and order, and education. Since 2015 concern about the environment has also surged in importance.

In response to this emerging challenge, the 2018 PAPI survey included a series of questions to better understand citizen’s view and preferences related environmental governance. The results show strong public support for environmental protection, even at the expense of economic development.

The 2018 PAPI includes a variety of changes made to better reflect governance and public administration performance in Vietnam 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 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 Phạm Van Tan, vice president and general secretary of the Vietnam Union for Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA), the parent organization of the Center for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES), a key PAPI partner.
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