By effectively improving the local business environment, the provincial competitiveness index (PCI) of Bac Ninh province secured a place in the group of best-performing localities in seven out of 12 years that PCI has been compiled and announced. With an attractive investment environment and the local name advertised globally, the northern province attracted many multinational corporations, recently drew a lot of urban economic development projects, and caught a rising wave of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.
Bac Ninh province attracted nearly 1,000 FDI projects with a total registered capital of US$15 billion from 31 countries and territories as of May 2017. Bac Ninh was the biggest recipient of FDI in the country, with US$2.7 billion in the first five months of 2017, accounting for 33 per cent of the country’s total FDI value in the period.
However, big changes in its PCI rankings showed that its business environment still had ‘bottlenecks’; many reform messages from provincial leaders were not fully implemented at lower levels; unofficial charge index picked up slowly, and transparency and time expense indices were unsustainable.
In Bac Ninh, provincial leaders have announced many new messages related to reforming, improving the business environment, and raising the administration quality in response to new development stages.
By using citizen satisfaction as a gauge of public administration reform results, the Provincial People’s Committee has approved the Scheme on Assessment of Satisfaction of Organisations and Citizens with Public Services and State Agencies in Bac Ninh province in 2016-2020. The Institute for Socio-economic Development Studies was assigned to establish Business Environment Improvement Satisfaction Index and improve the Department and District Competitiveness Index (DCI), announced after the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) released the PCI Index.
Survey forms were compiled from experts’ comments. Survey forms were chosen at random and respondents were businesses and economic entities with experience with administrative procedures or related works at different departments and branches in different forms.
The 2016 survey focused on collecting business opinions on the administration quality at Bac Ninh provincial departments and branches based on seven criteria related to business environment: (1) Access to information; (2) dynamism; (3) time cost; (4) informal charges; (5) fair competition; (6) business support, and (7) legal institution. These contents were referred to VCCI PCI surveys but adapted to the reality of Bac Ninh province. Besides, component indices also take weightings into account.
Based on the computing methodology and scoring system, Bac Ninh province’s DCI 2016 was announced on May 17, 2017.
The survey on organisation and citizen satisfaction with public administrative services and State agencies in Bac Ninh province through the DCI 2016 recorded the feedback and opinion of the local business community on reform efforts of State agencies.
Remarkably, 28.85 – 43.68 per cent of businesses found it easy to access information in departments and agencies. 73.17 per cent thought that relationship was very important to have access to documents at departments and agencies. This showed that most businesses needed to have relationships with officials to access documents at departments and agencies. 42.28 per cent saw popular harassments in administrative procedure settlement at departments, departments and agencies (this phenomenon was seen at even 50.43 per cent of departments and agencies). Lower than the PCI 2016 announced by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, this indicator showed signs of worry.
About 52.06 per cent of respondents felt that their business performances would be better without paying informal charges. This indicated the degree of their tolerance, as well as their custom of paying informal charges.
Businesses felt that unofficial costs were a must-pay fee when they work with State agencies. About 42.75 per cent of respondents said that their work would not get done if they did not agree to pay such money.
While speaking highly of their flexibility in addressing emerging issues, 44.35 per cent of respondents said the quality of public employees needed to be improved, and that heads of departments and agencies understood policies and guidelines of the province.