Vietnamese believe personal connections needed to get gov't jobs: survey

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People in Da Nang being asked to rate government officials online

The public perceives that corruption in government offices is on the rise while relationships are the best qualification for getting government jobs, a national survey released July 7 has found.

The Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) asks respondents about six issues people's participant in local government, transparency of policies, officials' willingness to explain, fight against corruption in the public sector, administrative procedures, and public services.

Half of nearly 14,000 people interviewed for the second PAPI said the relationship with those in power is an important requisite to apply for jobs in government offices, the police, public schools, and the justice and land departments.

Bribery is the norm while applying for state-sector jobs, getting treatment at public district hospitals, and applying for land-use rights, respondents said.

The bribes range from VND123,000 to 818,000 (US$5.80-38.60) for land-use rights, VND37,000-146,000 at hospitals, and VND98,000-572,000 for enrolling a child in a public primary school.

The northern mountainous provinces of Dien Bien, Lai Chau, and Cao Bang and the central provinces of Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan were perceived as the most corrupt.

Nearly 80 percent of respondents said they knew nothing about land-use planning in their area, while only 17 percent were informed through public channels.

They said this lack of transparency has engendered huge corruption in land management.

But they do not dare complain since they do not trust the legal and anti-corruption systems to protect them and are afraid of having to pay a bigger price.

Every city and province allows the public to oversee authorities through the Board of People's Inspectors and Board of Community Investment Supervision, but 66 percent of the people were ignorant about the existence of the former, and 83 percent about the latter.

The survey, done by the Center for Community Support and Development Studies, the Vietnam Fatherland Front and the United Nations Development Program, has polled 32,500 people since 2010-11 when the first one was done.

Dinh Xuan Thao, head of the National Institute of Legislative Studies, said the PAPI index gives legislators some objective opinions about policymaking and the implementation of laws.

Nguyen Quoc Khanh, deputy legislative in the southern province of An Giang, said the index is an "essential" modern tool to guarantee people's rights in supervising and questioning government practices.

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