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Vietnamese unhappy with public service delivery: UN survey

Many Vietnamese believe in giving "backdoor" money to receive better public services, according to results of a United Nations survey on public policies and services in Vietnam released in Hanoi Thursday.

The survey, conducted by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), was the largest of its kind in Vietnam, according to Jairo Acuña-Alfaro, UNDP policy advisor on public administration reform and anti-corruption.

It found significant parts of the population are willing to pay such "bonuses," especially for medical services.

More than half of the survey respondents said "envelops" are necessary for examination and treatment at public hospitals, while 31 percent admitted to actually paying the money, which ranged from VND5,000 a time to 30 million (US$1,500) a year.

Alfaro said the survey estimates that backdoor money paid by Vietnamese for medical services totals more than $4 million a year.

Meanwhile, 17 percent of the survey respondents said they gave an average of VND2.4 million ($115) in bonuses a year for teachers to get their children enrolled, especially in quality schools.

The survey also found 29 percent of the respondents saying bribes were necessary to get jobs with state-owned agencies, 21 percent saying bribes were needed when applying for land use right certificates and 16 percent saying they were needed to get construction permits.

Most respondents found the procedures involved in getting ID cards, permanent residency, birth and death certificates fairly simple, but were unhappy with those involving land. They expressed particular dissatisfaction with the "lack of transparency and the attitude of the officers in charge."

As many as 80 percent of the respondents knew nothing about land use plans in their ward/communes.

The measuring of PAPI, public administration performance index, was started in 2010 in three pilot localities - Phu Tho Province in the north, Hue in the central region and Vinh Long in the south.

It was then expanded to 30 cities and provinces and nationwide last year.

The survey covered six major issues resident's participation in local issues, policy transparency, vertical accountability, control of corruption, public administrative procedures, and public service delivery.

Only one locality received positive comments from its residents in all six matters - Long An Province in the Mekong Delta.

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