Land procedures flummox populace, survey says

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Bureaucratic procedures related to land title have been highlighted as the most frustrating, a recent survey found.

In order to increase public satisfaction with administrative efficiency, the report's authors claimed that the country needs to initiate a mass reform of its civil servants.

They have further called for greater transparency in the administrative procedures, according to an online survey jointly-conducted by VietNamNet news website and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

"Based on our findings, this dissatisfaction is felt across the country. It is not only one particular province. Everybody feels the same about their experience with land," said Jairo Acuña-Alfaro, UNDP policy advisor on public administration reform and anti-corruption.

"People who complained about land also complained about having to pay [extra]. Overall in the survey we found that 70 percent of people had to pay [extra]," he told Thanh Nien Weekly.

The survey, which was released on Tuesday (October 19), dealt with 1,500 respondents from all over the country. From June 8 to September 15 , the authors found that procedures related to marriage, birth certificates and ID card applications were seen as the most seamless.

However, the process of obtaining official permission for land use rights was highlighted by 45 percent of respondents as the most annoying undertaking-much higher than the second most troublesome procedure: construction permit application, nine percent.

"Last year, in 2009, my family did the paperwork to transfer the land title to my sister," said a college lecturer from Hanoi who responded to the survey. "The fee for completing the procedures was VND3.5 million but the commune land cadre collected VND7 million [with no invoice for the overcharged amount]. They said that was to include their wage."

Meanwhile, an office employee in Tien Giang Province's Chau Thanh District complained about red tape, saying that "authorized agencies don't clearly explain procedural requirements to citizens up front so that we can get ready with all paperwork... They make appointments but never meet the deadlines, and it is difficult for the citizens to speak with the person in charge."

An accountant from the northern Yen Bai Province griped about the labyrinthine regulations associated with land use right. "Cadres either do not grasp legal regulations or intentionally misinterpreted them for their own benefits," the respondent said.

The survey results indicate that a large majority of users still believe administrative procedures require too much paperwork and that cronyism and nepotism play a major role in getting things done.

Half of the respondents believed that civil servants are not adequately competent at doing their jobs. Citizens also expressed a belief that they will become more engaged in uncovering and denouncing the unethical behaviors of civil servants and that the Internet could help provide better administrative services.

"We have been very encouraged by the high number of responses and the detailed comments we received," Acuña-Alfaro said.

"This suggests that public administration is an issue which touches the life of all citizens. We hope that the information will prove helpful to policymakers and the government as the Public Administration Reform Master Program for 2011-2020 is formulated."

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