Speech at PAR Project Signing Ceremony in HCMC

Apr 24, 2008

Speaker: Ms Setsuko Yamazaki, Country Director
Date:      HCM City, April 24th, 2008  
Event:     Signing ceremony for HCMC – UNDP project “Support to PAR in HCM City 2007-11”  
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tai, First Vice Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee  
• Senior officials from the MPI, Office of Government, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs  
• Colleague from UNHABITAT
• Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a real pleasure for me to be here today to launch with you this new five year project which demonstrates our shared commitment to promoting democratic governance for the benefit the more than 8 million people living in this dynamic city.
I would like to thank the HCM City People’s Committee, especially the Department of Home Affairs, as well as our friends from central ministries, and my colleagues at UNDP for all of their hard work to get us to this point.

I would like to congratulate all of you who have contributed to the impressive economic growth and social development of this city. With an economy that contributes an estimated 30 percent of the country’s GDP, and leadership that often is at the forefront of socio-economic development initiatives and policies, I have great hopes and expectations for the future of this city.  

At the same time, this rapid economic growth brings new challenges which can threaten the advances that have been made.As you are well aware, the City is facing emerging difficulties related to urbanization. These include deterioration in education and health care services, water and sanitation facilities, an acute housing problem, lack of adequate architectural and spatial planning, urban transport problems, and ineffective urban development planning and management.   

A recent study by the UN Environment Programme covering 22 Asian cities concluded that HCM City was among the most seriously polluted in the region. And recent studies show a growing disparity between rich and poor, with increasing stratification between different social groups. 

In addition, the climate change might severely affect your growth scenario: In a longer run, the rise in sea levels will have devastating impacts on the fertile land and coastal areas. In immediate terms, more frequent rainfalls, storms and unprecedented levels of floods will affect the people’s lives and city infrastructure. And the poor and vulnerable will be the most affected.

These changes are stretching the capacity of the City to achieve development that  is inclusive, efficient and environmentally sustainable. While cities are the engines of economic, social and cultural progress - poor urban governance can adversely hinder economic growth and sustainable development.
The challenge at this critical stage in the history of HCM City is to ensure effective and efficient urban governance that promotes people-centered, inclusive and sustainable development.  

This is the vision of the new Public Administration Reform (PAR) project.  We know from experience world-wide that public administration reform is an intrinsic component of democratic governance.  It can play a key role in reducing poverty because it promotes transparency, accountability and people’s participation in decision-making processes – key features of good governance systems.  

But the project we sign today goes beyond what has been done in the past. It marks a substantial strategic change by introducing a new modern urban governance model. This will include, among other initiatives, piloting of a framework for public-private partnership for public services and infrastructure provision; development of a more efficient city-wide management information system; and targeting performance efficiency in the civil service.  

Of great importance to the success of the project will be the level of ownership, leadership and commitment by the city government. Again, I am very hopeful as history has shown that the municipal government is a champion of reform and open to new initiatives. The leadership has been strategic in identifying priorities for public administration reform and is determined to push the reform process forward.  

Still, the expected results of the project are ambitious, especially in the context of current events and trends in and outside of the country. Strong leadership and commitment by all of us will be vital if we are to achieve our goals.  

For UNDP, let me say that building on our long-standing cooperation with the city since 1998, we are ready to work even more closely with you and provide our expertise and experience and support. I am confident that together, we can make this project a real success for the people of HCM City.  

Thank you very much. Xin cam on.   

Background information  

1. Selected data of the new project:
    ? IP:    People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City
    ? Budget:   US $ 3.317,000  
    ? UNDP’s contribution:  US $ 2,000,000
    ? Start date:   April, 2008  
    ? Time frame:     2008-2011  

2. History of UNDP support to the City:

    ? UNDP has been supporting the HCMC PAR process since 1998 with two consecutive project phases. The second project (2003 – 2005) completed almost all its outcomes in December 2006 and was extended to June 2007.  
    ? The two projects supported the city government in designing and implementing the decentralization initiative under Decentralization Decree 93. Tested in the four delegated functions (socio-economic investment and development planning; land and infrastructure management; budget management; and organization and personnel management) this initiative was seen as a driving force for change in the management relationship between the city and lower levels, providing good lessons to the central government in strategizing  its decentralization policy.  
    ? Prominent among the support in strategic policy planning was the development of the "PAR Strategy and Sustainable Growth" paper. The document for the first time aligned the MDGs into the city’s development strategy and outlined a more outcome oriented and pro-poor strategy for the PAR of the city in the 2005 - 2010 period.  
    ? Remarkable among the achievements in the second phase was the introduction of a series of new reform initiatives like PMS, Quality Management System (ISO), the deepening of One-Stop-Shop model. These experiments have contributed to enhancing accountability, transparency and local administrative and social service quality. On the other hand, they have been replicated in other locations and served as an input for national policy-making on PAR. The project has also set a good example in terms of Government commitment and leadership, and the substantive link between HCMC and the national PAR effort.
    ? Leadership of HCM People’s Committee has been changed recently. Mr. Nguyen Thanh Tai, first Deputy Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee is now in charge of PAR of the City.

3. Brief information on the 53 Resolution  

Resolution 53/2007/NQ-CP (07 November, 2007) Promulgating the Government’s Program of Action for Implementation of the resolution of the Fifth Plenum of the Party Central Committee, X Congress, on accelerating administrative reform and raising management effectiveness and efficiency of the state apparatus.   

Under the Government’s Program of Action, ten key tasks have been specified as follows:  
    - To enhance the Party’s leadership of administrative reform
    - To carry out administrative reform and legislative and judicial reforms in a coordinated manner  
    - To build and perfect the institutional system
    - To speed up the reform of administrative procedures – a breakthrough in administrative reform
    - To continue improving functions, tasks, organizational apparatus and operation mechanism of the Government and state administrative agencies
    - To reform regulations on cadres and public duty  
    - Public financial reform  
    - To modernize administration
    - To handle the relationships between state administrative agencies and people  

To raise awareness and responsibility of state administrative agencies at all levels and cadres and civil servants for administration