HANOI, December 12, 2014—Vietnam has improved in making land-related information public, but still falls short of legal requirements, according to a new World Bank study.
The Land Transparency Study found that reforms in recent decades have made more information on land issues publicly available, but responsible public officials fail to provide information as prescribed by law in many cases.
“Enhancing transparency in land management is critical for more efficient and sustainable use of Vietnam’s land resources,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam.
Despite some improvements, the pace of change lags behind the modest transparency provisions in existing laws. Comparing the results to a similar study conducted in 2010, researchers found that while more information was publicly available—especially in wealthier provinces with better online resources—further progress is required.
The study therefore calls for the nation to institutionalize the right to information under law, making full access the norm and requiring exceptions to be listed.
“This study will be a source of reference for land management agencies to improve land information disclosure in Vietnam,” said Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Manh Hien.
For the study, researchers checked all 63 provincial websites and visited government offices in each province as well as 126 districts and 321 communes in late 2013 and early 2014 to ask for legally available information related to land issues.
They encountered problems with attitude, capacity and leadership, such as officials who simply refused requests or demanded letters of authorization. At the commune level, officials were unavailable during working hours or said they lacked the requested information.
The study includes recommendations for how all localities surveyed can improve their disclosure practices, and all provinces received details of the good disclosure practices that are used in different offices so that they can learn from one another.
“All of the recommendations are 100 percent actionable,” said Huong Thi Lan Tran, World Bank Governance Specialist and the report’sco-lead author. “This means that it is clear exactly what a province or district or commune needs to do to improve transparency.”
“We hope the practical recommendations in this report will help both central and local level agencies to improve public access to information on land management,” said Jim Carpy, Head of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Vietnam.
The Land Transparency Study is a part of the Vietnam Transparency Project funded by DFID and implemented by the World Bank.
For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org/vn
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