Remarks by Bakhodir Burkhanov, Deputy Country Director, UNDP Viet Nam at the PAPI 2013 Regional Workshop for South-Eastern Provinces

23 Apr 2014

Event:  PAPI 2013 Regional Workshop for South-Eastern Provinces
Date and venue: Vung Tau City, 23 April 2014

Mr. Nguyen Hong Linh, Vice-Chairman of the Party Committee and Chairman of the People’s Council of Ba Ria – Vung Tau
Honourable Chairman of the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Fatherland Front
Mr. Nguyen Quang Du, Director, Center for Training and Research of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front Steering Committee
Distinguished representatives from provinces, ladies and gentlemen:

I would like to start by thanking the Center for Training and Research of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front for organizing this meeting to share with you the findings of the Viet Nam Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI). Our special thanks go to the Ba Ria – Vung Tau province – the sea port hub and a gateway to Viet Nam – for hosting us today.

The 2013 PAPI Report was launched in Ha Noi on 2 April and it demonstrated a significant further growth in interest from various stakeholders to this innovative tool. Nation-wide, after three years of PAPI surveys covering all provinces of Viet Nam, we are observing high levels of acceptance and a very encouraging follow-up action by authorities on PAPI findings. The PAPI team has held several presentations of the report at provincial levels to audiences similar to the one today, and the engagement has invariably been stimulating and constructive. We hope to have an equally engaging discussion today!

Why is PAPI important? Viet Nam has done remarkably well in its development path since 1990s, but is facing new challenges of reform and transition. Enlarging the progress achieved requires sophisticated policies backed by quality analysis, research and data. As a middle-income country, Viet Nam is now realizing the potential of modern policy monitoring tools. Experiences from other countries confirm a shift in the relationship between government and citizens, in terms of the way they interact with each other. Wealthier, better-educated citizens demand higher quality, more efficient administrative services from their government. They want less bureaucracy and more accountability from local authorities, and better control of corruption in the public sector.

In this context, UNDP is proud of the partnership that was established with the Viet Nam Fatherland Front and CECODES to create Viet Nam’s largest-ever policy monitoring tool on governance and public administration covering all 63 provinces. In 2013 alone, nearly 14,000 citizens participated in the PAPI survey. And since 2010, close to 50,000 voices have been systematically collected and analysed to inform policy-makers. PAPI, therefore, provides a wealth of information and insights on provincial level performance.

It should be stressed however that the purpose of PAPI is not naming and shaming, but to help improve the quality of governance and public accountability to the citizens. We see PAPI as a catalyst for cooperation among provinces. As was mentioned by Mr. Nguyen Hong Linh in his remarks, we very much hope provinces can share practices amongst each other to ultimately foster improvements nation-wide.

It is encouraging to see that PAPI is already catalyzing concrete action at provincial level. More than 22 provinces have action plans to improve on issues identified by PAPI. In 2013 alone, 9 provincial governments including Binh Dinh, Binh Thuan, Ca Mau, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Dong Thap, Kon Tum, Quang Ngai and Thai Nguyen, adopted specific proposals to address the issues that PAPI brought out. Many more are poised to join them: last year, 10 provinces hosted in-depth provincial diagnostics workshops to analyse PAPI results and potential implications.

PAPI is built on a premise that citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries of public services and that their opinions as end-users of these services should matter. As such, it offers an innovative ‘bottom-up’ approach that collects data that complements existing state management monitoring tools. It adheres to Viet Nam’s rules and regulations and provides evidence and data to support monitoring and oversight work by the National Assembly, People’s Councils, Viet Nam Fatherland Front, Government agencies and other stakeholders.

We have an interesting morning ahead of us with presentations and discussions focusing on the national trends, but also on the south-eastern region. I hope you find this dialogue useful, and wish you good health and success.

Thank you for your attention.