Speech at the 2nd Regional Workshop on PAR at Provincial Level “Towards Evidence-based Public Administration Reforms: Experience and Initiatives from Provinces”

02 May 2009

Speaker: Ms Setsuko Yamazaki, UNDP Country Director
Date:        7 May 2009
Event:       2nd Regional Workshop on PAR at Provincial Level “Towards Evidence-based Public Administration Reforms:  Experience and Initiatives from Provinces”
Venue:      Da Nang City

Mr. Tran Van Minh, Chair of the People’s Committee of Da Nang
Mr. Tran Ngoc Nhan, Vietnam Fatherland Front
Dr. Dang Ngoc Dinh, Director of CECODES
Distinguished participants from Provincial People’s Committees and Departments, National Academy of Public Administration, and
Ladies and gentlemen,


It is a pleasure to be here this morning. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with so many distinguished public administration experts and have an opportunity to debate critical issues related to public administration reform. As a long-standing partner of Vietnam, UNDP supports your efforts to steer this energetic country to the next level of development through supporting critical public administration reform.

I would like to express my appreciation to the Department of Democracy and Law of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) and the Centre for Community Support and Development Studies (CECODES) under VUSTA for hosting this workshop, “Towards Evidence-based Public Administration Reforms: Experience and Initiatives from Provinces”. To promote the exchanging of experiences at the provincial level, there will be no better hosts than the Fatherland Front, representing the “people’s power”, in its important role of ensuring an oversight of the Government, as well as VUSTA representing the civil society in Viet Nam.

Over the past 30 years, Vietnam has successfully managed three transitions; from war to peace; from a centrally-planned economy to a market-oriented economy under the Doi Moi reforms; and most recently, from regional to international economic integration and globalization, marked by Vietnam’s accession to the WTO in January 2007.  The central region, which was most severely affected during the war while suffering from remnants of the war to this date, has a remarkable transformation, by retaining its rich culture and traditions abundant in the region.

Since 1977 UNDP has been supporting the Government of Vietnam and its policy makers through these challenging transitions, by providing neutral policy advice in strategic areas. Public Administration Reform is one of our key area of assistance to the country; and UNDP provided support for formulation of the first Public Administration Reform Master Plan from 2001-2010 and its implementation.

The intention of UNDP support is not to encourage any specific policy or approach. Rather, we focus on providing the Government and local authorities with information, skills, and fora for discussions so that Vietnamese policy-makers can make the best decisions for the sustainable economic and social development of the country. With this intention, UNDP commissioned six policy discussion papers on key elements of PAR reform which are the basis for discussions in today’s workshop.

Distinguished Friends,

At the moment Vietnam stands at a crossroads as it faces yet another transition – this time from a low income country to a middle income country.  Given our fast changing, turbulent world, I believe that this regional workshop on PAR at provincial level is extremely timely. It will help us have an open and frank discussion of the various challenges of public administration reform and the institutional framework for governance which in turn affect the country’s ability to steer the economy and society. 

This workshop is part of three regional workshops, based on the discussions at the central level in March 2009.  We see them as excellent opportunities to hear from provinces about their experiences and initiatives in implementation of public administration reforms in their localities, and to have input into policy making in Viet Nam.

We had the first regional workshop in HCMC where we learned the importance of hearing provincial perspectives on public administration reform to help take us to the fourth transition.  For instance, we learned the emerging needs for the government to strengthen its regulatory functions in the environmental, financial, and legal aspects, in addition to promotion of FDI, through one-stop shop and simplification of administrative procedures.

Conclusion

Effective public administration in this era of globalization is extremely challenging. The world economy is changing fast, with greater interconnectedness, more sophisticated technologies, and a growing need for international cooperation. Global business systems have been revolutionized in just the last 20 years. 

Keeping up with these changes, and anticipating future changes, will require efficient civil service with constant public administration reform based on evidence-based policy adjustments. The UN in Viet Nam is also undertaking reforms in order to better serve the country with quality policy advisory services as the country changes its profile into a middle-income country. UNDP is here to support your efforts by providing  knowledge networks involving scholars, business leaders and policy makers from around the world. I hope that the workshop will provide opportunities to reflect local voices in policy debates as you determine a future development path to middle income status.

Xin cam on!