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Speech by Ms. Pratibha Mehta, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative at the official launch of 2015 PAPI Report

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Date: 12 April 2016
Event: Official Launch of 2015 PAPI Report
Venue: Meliá Hanoi Hotel, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet, Ha Noi

Prof. Dr. Tạ Ngọc Tấn, President, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics;
Excellency Ms. Beatrice Maser Mallor, Ambassador of Switzerland to Viet Nam;
Mr. Hồ Kỳ Minh, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Đà Nẵng;
Dr. Đặng Ngọc Dinh, Director of the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies;
Dr Phạm Thị Hồng, Deputy Director of the Centre for Research and Training of the Vietnam Fatherland Front;
Distinguished representatives from provinces across Viet Nam;
Representatives from the Vietnam Fatherland Front, mass organisations and the media;
Ambassadors and development partners and NGOs;
Ladies and gentlemen;

I am very pleased to welcome all of you to today’s launch of the 2015 Report of the Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index, also known as PAPI. This is the fifth year in a row that we are launching results from this nationwide survey, and it is very encouraging to see that the number of participants to the launch event is increasing year by year.
With the National Assembly and People’s Councils elections taking place next month, we hope that the report would serve as a tool for the new administration to assess governance and public administration reforms over the last five years and benchmark future performance.
The launch of this year’s report is also timely in light of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which UN member states, including Viet Nam, have recently committed to achieve by 2030. Findings from the report are particularly useful for achieving SDG 16, which is focused on developing accountable institutions, ensuring inclusive decision-making and reducing corruption.

As most of you will be aware, PAPI is a policy monitoring tool that reflects citizens’ experiences with government performance in governance, public administration and public service delivery with an aim to improve performance of local authorities in meeting their citizens’ expectations and it does this in two ways. First, the index creates constructive competition and promotes learning among local authorities. Secondly, it enables citizens to benchmark their local government’s performance and advocate for improvement.

Every year, efforts are made to refine the survey methodology and its execution. One of the key changes to the 2015 PAPI survey was the introduction of computerized tablets to conduct the survey, rather than using paper-based questionnaires. Using tablets helped to improve the quality of the face-to-face interviews, supported gathering of real-time data and facilitated real-time monitoring of the fieldwork.

Because of the strong survey methodology and data, PAPI continues to have a substantial impact at various levels.

As many as two thirds of all 63 provinces are using PAPI as a monitoring tool to track how their local government agencies are doing within governance and public administration. And at least 26 provinces have issued resolutions or action plans to directly respond to PAPI findings.

Nationally, PAPI is used to collect citizen feedback and encourage public accountability by providing information to government and National Assembly system.

At the international level also, PAPI continues to be seen as a unique tool to listen to citizen voices. Tunisia has, for example, recently decided to replicate the PAPI approach in order to be better able to listen to its citizens’ voices, while Malawi is going to adopt PAPI to measure governance and local development.

For the 2015 survey, almost 14,000 citizens were randomly selected from across the country for interviews. The 2015 results show a decline in five out of the six governance dimensions that PAPI measures, namely transparency, control of corruption, local level participation, vertical accountability and public administrative procedures. On a more positive note, public service delivery scores have modestly increased. You will hear more about each of these dimensions in a short while.
As Viet Nam prepares for the upcoming National Assembly and People’s Councils elections, the 2015 report also looked at the factors that determine participation, in particular participation in elections and in law-making.

With regard to voting in elections, the PAPI survey found that gender, ethnicity, mass organization membership and education all have an impact on who votes. Overall, women, ethnic minorities, those with lower levels of education and those who are not members of mass organizations are all less likely to vote.

As different groups of people have different interests and experiences, encouraging participation in elections from a demographically representative group of citizens is essential to ensure that the feedback the Government hears is representative of the entire country. This means making sure that the voices of men and women, ethnic minority and Kinh majority citizens, party and non-party members are all taken into account.  

In advance of the elections in May, increasing awareness particularly of women and ethnic minorities and encouraging them to exercise their individual right vote would increase overall participation in elections. Citizens with low levels of education or who are not members of a mass organization also need to be encouraged to participate.

Ladies and gentlemen;
In addition to national level findings, the 2015 PAPI Report also looks at provincial performance in each of the six dimensions measured. The efforts of the local governments in Nam Dinh, Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Da Nang and Long An deserve a special mention. These five provinces have all been in the top performing group in overall provincial performance for the last five years.

Da Nang in particular should be congratulated for its continued efforts to constructively respond to PAPI findings and identify new ways to collect citizen feedback, such as through mobile applications. The positive correlation between PAPI and the Provincial Competitiveness Index in the province also demonstrates that Da Nang is able to ensure more benefits for its citizens and better opportunities for sustainable development, social cohesion and economic integration. The same is true in other provinces that are able to equitably balance the needs of both businesses and citizens.

Quang Tri also deserves a special mention as the province has also put in place action plans to improve its performance.

Unfortunately, while a number of provinces have managed to substantially improve their overall performance scores since 2011, 13 provinces have seen significant drops in their total scores over the last five years.

For poorer performing provinces to catch up with better performing ones, it is important for local governments to systematically look at the specific indicators that show where they have performed well and where they need to improve and develop action plans to respond to these gaps.

As you will hear more about in session three of today’s event, UNDP is also supporting the development of a mobile application called 4P, which will help to engage local citizens and agencies in addressing issues of local concern, such as road conditions, public health facilities and the state of the environment. 4P stands for People, Planet, Participation and Partnership, and the application specifically aims to address concerns expressed in the 2014 PAPI survey. The 4P application was selected to be incubated following the Hackathon for Social Good that UNDP collaborated with the HATCH! PROGRAM to promote innovations in measuring governance. The strong participation of social enterprises and start-ups for social good demonstrates the vital role and spirit of social entrepreneurship, which is growing in Viet Nam and should be encouraged and promoted.

Ladies and gentlemen;
I strongly hope PAPI will continue to be a useful tool for policymakers, government leaders, civil society organizations, the media and international development partners to better understand and respond to the expectations of the citizens in middle-income Viet Nam.

I look forward to continuing the collaboration with our partners and to continuing improving the PAPI methodology for real time data collection and further increase its impact as a tool to improve governance and realise aspirations and vision for more accountable and responsive institutions, a top priority identified in the 12th Party Congress Resolution.

On this occasion, I would like to thank Fatherland Front, HCM National Academy of Politics and CECODES for excellent partnerships at every step of PAPI process and would like to extend our deep gratitude to the Government of Switzerland for their generous funding for PAPI since 2011, as well as funding from Spanish Cooperation in Vietnam in 2009 and 2010. We look forward to the continued support from Switzerland and all other development partners for PAPI in the years to come.