Opening remarks by Mr Kamal Malhotra United Nations Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative, Vietnam at PAPI 2016 Launch

Apr 4, 2017

Date: April 04, 2017

Venue: Hanoi Daewoo Hotel, 360 Kim Ma St., Hanoi, Vietnam

 

Prof. Dr. Nguyễn Viết Thảo, Vice President, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics;

Excellency Ms. Beatrice Maser Mallor, Ambassador of Switzerland to Viet Nam;

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 leaders and representatives from provinces across Viet Nam;

Representatives from the Vietnam Fatherland Front, mass organisations and the media; 
Ambassadors, development partners and NGOs;

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to the launch of the 2016 Viet Nam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index report. The Index is also known as PAPI. This is the sixth year in a row that we are sharing the results from this nationwide survey. On behalf of the implementing partners, I want to thank the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development in particular for their generous support since 2011 for this important exercise.

The index is a rigorous and objective policy monitoring tool that reflects citizens’ experiences with government performance in public administration, public service delivery, and related governance issues, in all 63 provinces of Viet Nam.

The results facilitate better understanding of the Vietnamese people’s aspirations and experiences, which can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local authorities in meeting citizens’ needs.

PAPI supports efforts to improve provincial governance and public administration performance in two ways. First, the index creates constructive competition and promotes learning among local authorities. For example, officials in many provinces have used the survey data and the good practices of other provinces to develop plans to tackle corruption and improve public services.

Second, PAPI enables citizens to benchmark their local government’s performance and advocate for improvement. Citizens and officials can now look back at six years of results and identify areas where performance is getting better and areas that need more attention.

A great amount of work is required to carry out the survey and develop the report. In 2016 over 14,000 randomly selected citizens were interviewed, representing different demographic groups across the country.

Since the first pilot of PAPI in 2009, almost 89,000 citizens across Viet Nam have shared their experiences and assessments through face-to-face interviews.

The latest survey was conducted following the 2016 national elections, as government at all levels started their tenure for the 2016-2021 term. In this context, the Prime Minister’s commitment to building a “government that facilitates development, acts with integrity and pro-activeness, and works for its People” has created a strong sense of hope for innovation in governance in Viet Nam.

PAPI directly speaks to those national priorities through its six dimensions:

(i)             citizen participation at local level,

(ii)         transparency in decision-making,

(iii)      vertical accountability towards citizens;

(iv)      control of corruption in the public sector;

(v)          public administrative procedures; and

(vi)      public service delivery.

These dimensions also correspond to Viet Nam’s commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially the critical goal number 16 that emphasizes citizen participation and inclusion in governance, as well as strong institutions that promote accountability, responsiveness, and anti-corruption.

Through annual improvements to the research methodology, PAPI has consolidated its role as a source of evidence for a wide range of stakeholders at multiple levels.

We are encouraged to know that at least 57 out of Viet Nam’s 63 provinces have hosted or convened diagnostic workshops on PAPI findings, and 35 of them have issued provincial resolutions, directives, and/or action plans in response to PAPI findings.

At the national level, PAPI continues to provide helpful information for different state, government and National Assembly bodies to support their policy making and oversight work. This includes on the topics of health care, internal affairs, education, and government inspection.

Finally, at the international level, PAPI has been highlighted as an innovative approach to collecting citizens’ views, and is used by organisations including United Nations agencies, donors and UN member states as a means of verification of Viet Nam’s progress in governance, citizen participation, gender equality, quality of public services, and control of corruption. Vietnam could be at the forefront of reporting on Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals as a result of this, since the data already covers a lot of Goal 16 indicators.

Importantly, PAPI findings have been widely covered by the media, providing a vital mechanism to disseminate the findings to citizens and officials across the country.

As you will soon be briefed by my colleagues, the 2016 PAPI results paint a mixed picture of trends in public opinion on the quality of governance.

At the national level, on the one hand, there has been steady improvement in the performance of public service delivery over the past six years. On the other hand, the report also highlights areas where citizens desire more action. In particular, improvements are needed in the areas of citizen engagement in decision-making, transparency in local planning, government accountability towards citizens, and control of corruption in the public sector.

Interestingly, in 2016 the environment became a much more important issue for citizens across the country, though poverty still remains the top concern.

Also, findings at the provincial level suggested that more can be done to improve the competence and attitude of civil servants and public employees, and enhance the transparency, responsiveness, and accountability of their institutions.

The results support the view that the causes of these shortcomings are primarily structural. Processes for citizen consultation in developing and implementing policies and procedures are lacking, and these policies and procedures are not adequately publicised, complied with, or enforced.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To address these challenges, central and local governments should consider adopting a holistic strategy, with clear priorities and measurable outputs and outcomes assigned to each of the identified challenges, working along a three-pronged approach.

First, citizens should be more engaged in policy making, policy implementation, and policy monitoring. Engaged citizens inform the government of their needs and expectations, and are enabled in this way to assume greater ownership of, and responsibility for, public policies and solutions.

Second, the behaviour and skills of public officials and civil servants can be enhanced by using evidence-based approaches to training and professional development. This will help these individuals to gain new skills, allowing them to become enablers, negotiators, and collaborators with their citizen clients.

And, third, it is important to create and promote a culture of openness and transparency in government institutions. This requires a robust legislative regime that enables freedom of information, transparency in decision-making, responsiveness towards citizens, and accountable institutions.

Ladies and gentlemen;

In conclusion, allow me to emphasise that PAPI provides a comprehensive, independent and representative source of data and should be viewed as a key tool for policymakers, government leaders, civil society organizations, the media and international development partners to better understand and respond to citizens’ needs in a fast-growing and changing middle-income Viet Nam. The increase in action-planning in response to PAPI shows growing ownership of the index, and UNDP stands ready to support the Government, at national and provincial level, in the institutionalisation of this citizen-engagement tool. This should be a top priority in the next phase.

Together, we can help to ensure that the findings support Viet Nam in its efforts to enhance good governance and public administration for all citizens as well as to support the Government to more adequately fulfil its stated pledge to be an enabling and developmental government, and to achieve the country’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Thank you.