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Citizens report less corruption but the poor are worried about their livelihood future: 2017 PAPI Report


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Ha Noi, 4 April 2018 – Findings from the 2017 PAPI Report, released today, show a significant turnaround in citizen’s perceptions and experiences with corruption in the public sector, more women adding their names to land use titles, and rising pessimism among the poorest citizens about their future economic prospects. Health insurance coverage expanded and fewer reported land seizures. However, setbacks included lower satisfaction with compensation for land seized, and persistent concerns about poverty among citizens of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Overall, citizens reported improvement in five of the six areas of governance and public administration that make up the index.

Over 14,000 citizens randomly selected from all 63 provinces were interviewed for the 2017 Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI), which assesses citizen experiences with national and local government performance in governance, public administration and public service delivery.

Speaking at the launch of the report, H.E. Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam, said: “The 2017 survey results are mixed and reveal both encouraging and worrying trends. Particularly noteworthy is the reversal in the downward trend since 2013 in control of corruption in the public sector. Citizens report improvements in both their perceptions and personal experiences. However, the PAPI scores are still below the levels found in 2012, so although the direction of change is positive, much work remains to be done to fight corruption - to ensure that the findings of the 2017 PAPI report do not represent a temporary aberration but signal the start of a systemic and fundamental reversal of what has been a worrying longer-term trend on corruption.”

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Addressing the launch, H.E. Craig Chittick, Australia’s Ambassador to Viet Nam, commended PAPI as a data gold mine for Vietnamese policy makers and researchers seeking to implement policy reform and improve government performance.

“The value of PAPI is that it is credible, comprehensive and clear,” said Ambassador Craig Chittick. “I am proud that Australia is part of such an important reform tool for Viet Nam”. The Ambassador said that Australia will be the main sponsor of PAPI for the next three years, providing a total of $2.9 million. “This support falls under the umbrella of the Aus4Reform program, which is supporting the Government of Viet Nam to deliver higher, more inclusive, and better quality economic growth,” he said.

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Of the six governance areas measured in 2017, the greatest gain was seen in control of corruption in the public sector. Citizens reported improvements in both their perceptions and personal experiences: only 17% said they directly experienced bribery when applying for land use rights certificates, down from 23% in 2016, and the proportion experiencing bribery when using public district hospital services fell to 9% in 2017 from 17% in 2016. In all, 33 provinces saw increases in their score on this dimension compared to 2016, with Quang Ninh, Bac Lieu, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Lao Cai and An Giang achieving score increases of 20% or more over the prior year. Among the six provinces that saw significant declines are Dak Nong, Hung Yen and Hai Phong, with their scores falling by 9% or more.

When asked about the most important issues facing the country, poverty was by far the most important issue for citizens again in 2017: 28% cited it as their top concern, with economic growth second and jobs third. The environment, the second most important issue in 2016, dropped to fourth. Still, concern about the environment has risen in importance since 2015, and the 2017 survey explored the relationship between these two, finding that all Vietnamese citizens, but particularly highly educated ones, are unwilling to sacrifice environmental protection for economic development. 

Citizens reported several positive trends related to political participation at the local level in 2017. The largest increase was in the proportion of citizens reporting that local projects were monitored by Community Investment Supervision Boards: the rate surged from 21% in 2016 to 34% in 2017. A higher proportion of citizens also reported having a second candidate to choose from in village head elections – up from 42% in 2016 to 49% in 2017.

Citizens reported that overall provincial performance in vertical accountability improved slightly. In 2017, about 25% of respondents across the country said they met village heads to discuss a problem, an increase of about 3% from 2016. For those who met with village heads, about 83% rated the meeting as successful, down from 85% in 2016.

Results also show good progress made by all provinces in public administrative procedures. Overall, citizens said they were more satisfied with procedures at local one-stop shops in three out of the four services that PAPI measures (certification, construction permits, and personal documents), and they reported a significant increase in accessing one-stop windows for land use rights certificates (up from 79% in 2016 to 86% in 2017). The most striking finding was a remarkable closing of the gender gap in land use titling: in 2016 18% fewer women in rural areas reported having their names on land use certificates compared to men, but in 2017 the difference fell by half to 9%.

The downward trend in housing land seizures continued, with less than 7% reporting land seized in 2017, down from an average of about 9% prior to 2013. Nonetheless, a more concerning trend relates to satisfaction with compensation for land seized: while 36% thought the compensation was at a fair market value in 2014, the percentage dropped to 21% in 2017.

Finally, the 2017 PAPI Report looks at overall provincial performance. Scores for all of the country’s 63 provinces increased in 2017 compared to 2016, and seven saw significant improvements. Among the best performers were Quang Binh, Ben Tre and Bac Lieu – provinces scoring in the best performing groups for five out of the six dimensions. Bac Lieu, Quang Ninh and Tra Vinh achieved increases above 8%, with Bac Lieu making the most impressive movement upward in the index. Ha Nam, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, and Vinh Long also saw their scores rise. When comparing 2016 and 2017 aggregate scores in the best performing group, 11 provinces (Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Binh Dinh, Ben Tre and Can Tho) were stable, while Bac Giang, Phu Tho, Da Nang and Dong Thap fell back into the ‘high average’ group, and Hung Yen dropped into the ‘low average’ group.

Even in the best performing provinces, however, local governments need to do more to satisfy their citizens’ expectations, as there is a significant gap between the highest provincial score – 39.52 points – and the maximum possible score of 60 for all six dimensions. There is also a significant gap between the highest and the lowest provincial scores in 2017, revealing differences in how provinces have been performing.

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The 2017 PAPI results point to the need for a continued emphasis on inclusive and equitable development, on transparency, and on public consultation with citizens.

“We hope that with the 2017 PAPI data and evidence from PAPI surveys over the next years, the Government of Viet Nam can better oversee how it moves towards ‘the government that facilitates development and serves its People,’” said Dr. Dang Hoang Giang, Deputy Director of the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES).

Notes for editors

The Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) is a policy monitoring tool that assesses citizen experiences and satisfaction with government performance at the national and sub-national levels in governance, public administration and public service delivery. Since its pilot in 2009, PAPI has directly interviewed 103,059 Vietnamese citizens nationwide.

PAPI measures six dimensions: participation at local levels, transparency, vertical accountability, control of corruption, public administrative procedures and public service delivery. The survey has been implemented nationwide each year since 2011. For the 2017 PAPI Report, 14,097 randomly selected citizens were surveyed.

PAPI is a collaboration between the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES), the Centre for Research and Training of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front (VFF-CRT), the Real-Time Analytics and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Funding for PAPI has been generously provided by the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) for 2011-2017; by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia for 2018-2021; by the Embassy of Ireland for 2018; and by the United Nations and UNDP in Viet Nam since 2009.

The full 2017 PAPI Report and more in-depth analysis can be found at: www.papi.org.vn.

Related info:

For more information, please contact:

  • Nguyen Viet Lan, UN Communications Team | Tel: (84 4) 38 500 158 | Mob: (+84) 91 4436 769 | Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Dang Hoang Giang, CECODES | P717, Block N3, Nguyen Cong Tru, Hai Ba Trung Dist., Ha Noi | Tel: (024) 665 23846 | Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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