Vietnam public survey finds corruption remains issue

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An annual survey finds public services still involve a lot of red tape, especially in land use right application. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Corruption at the provincial/city level remains rife, with bribery being used to smoothen most administrative procedures, a survey released Wednesday found.
The Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) 2013 showed corruption occurring almost everywhere, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
A total of 13,892 respondents in 63 cities and provinces were asked about six issues: people’s participation in local government, transparency of policies, officials’ willingness to explain, corruption control in the public sector, administrative procedures, and public services.
Among the best performing localities were Da Nang and nearby Quang Binh and Quang Tri Provinces, Thai Binh near Hanoi, and Long An next to Ho Chi Minh City. The country’s largest cities did not earn high scores, with HCMC ranking 26th, Hanoi, 28th, and Hai Phong, 48th.
Bac Giang Province near Hanoi was in bottom place in many categories.
Dang Hoang Giang, deputy director of Hanoi-based Center of Community Support Development Studies, one of the authors of the survey, said bribing to get jobs in the state sector was reported in all cities and provinces.
Around 42 percent of the respondents said they paid bribes at district hospitals and 24 percent said they had to pay “extra money” when applying for construction permits.
Some 42 percent said there is a conspiracy in recruitment at state-run organizations.
Though only 30 percent said there was corruption related to obtaining land-use rights, most of the respondents described the process as troubling, even “miserable.”
Though the time limit for the process is set by the government at around 30 days, some people said they had to wait for almost two years.
The complexities involved caused at least 6.3 percent of the respondents to hire middlemen.
The PAPI report said the quality of land use right procedures was rated the lowest among the administrative services.
Only 38 percent of the respondents said their local authorities were serious in dealing with corruption cases that had been exposed, with the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and nearby Tien Giang and Long An Provinces topping the list in combating corruption. Hanoi and Hai Phong were at the bottom.
The survey team head, Jairo Acuna Alfaro of the United Nations Development Program, said there was a slight improvement in fighting corruption in the public sector since 2012.
Referring to the transparency category, Alfaro said around 80 percent of the respondents said they did not know about local land plans.
The rate saying they knew about land policies ranged from 1.6 to 50 percent, but only 19 percent in the latter case had been informed by the authorities.
Alfaro said there has been almost no improvement in the category since 2011.
The respondents also assessed government officials as unprofessional, citing actions like failing to issue a document at the promised time and treating people with disrespect.
PAPI was first done in 2009 and has since interested at least 22 cities and provinces, who have drafted action plans to improve their rating.

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