Submitted by: Amanda Jarrett
Basic Country Information and Data
Vietnam has experienced rapid and inclusive economic growth since the early 1990s. Economic reforms launched in 1986 have transformed the country from one of the world’s poorest nations into a lower-middle-income country. Growth has been inclusive: incomes have risen across the income distribution, with only modest increases in inequality. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty dropped from 50 percent in the 1993 to less than three percent today. Nonetheless, significant challenges remain. In particular, there is a slowdown in productivity growth. The remaining welfare gaps for ethnic minorities and environmental degradation coupled with the impact of global climate change threaten the long-term sustainability of the country’s development. Furthermore, despite major infrastructure spending needs, Vietnam faces shrinking financing options on account of growing fiscal pressures and insufficient private sector participation. These issues lie at the core of the Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP) 2016-20 of the Government of Vietnam (GoV) and the Vietnam-World Bank Group Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) 2012-16. Both the SEDP and CPS emphasize government-wide reforms to ensure macroeconomic stability for accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction. They highlight the importance of effective and sustainable land management and improved governance. Better land administration and management will also help reduce transaction costs and lead to efficient land markets by reducing disputes and enabling easy land investments. At the macroeconomic level, improved land administration and management can directly affect production (e.g., through long-term investment or expanded credit access) or indirectly result in investment (private and public) in roads and infrastructure that complement productive activity.
In the long run, Vietnam’s land sector faces two key development challenges: (a) increasingly diversified and competing demands for land resources due to rapid urbanization and industrialization, land degradation, and climate change; and (b) lack of nationally consistent implementation of the legal framework. Which leads to the need of the developmental project that attempts to address these issues called the Project for Improved Land Governance and Databases, also referred to as VILG. This project is aligned with the country’s policies and development plans. The project will focus on supporting a gender sensitive land administration system, including by facilitating gender land use rights analysis through the MPLIS.
For VILG, the Vietnamese government is taking a loan in credit with the intention of paying back the IDA. The approval date of the project was July 5, 2016. The original closing date is December 31, 2021. Though, even with the lack of progress on implementation, the current closing date is still the same. Also, to date, the project has not been reconstructed.
The Project Development Objective (PDO) is to improve the efficiency and transparency of land administration services in the Project Provinces through the development and implementation of the national Multipurpose Land Information System (MPLIS). The PDO will be achieved by developing and implementing (a) the national Multi-Purpose Land Information System (MPLIS), (b) simplified procedures and business processes for Land Registration Offices (LROs) and better-quality land services, and (c) increased public and stakeholder awareness and engagement in access to land information and land services. The beneficiaries include: land users and the general public including the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, government institutions, and the private sector.
There are three main components to the project, all of them having sub-components. First is the Strengthening the Quality of Land Service, which aims to support quality enhancement of land service delivery by reforming and streamlining current service procedures and standards, renovating facilities, and building up the capacity of personnel working in LROs in project provinces. The three sub-components are (a) Modernizing and strengthening LROs and encouraging standardization and simplification of standard operating procedures and business process and environment; (b) Training and providing communication systems, awareness raising among stakeholders, implementation of ethnic minorities development framework and relevant plans, and engagement with civil society; and (c) Establishing and operating an M&E system for land-use management. For the first sub-component, there are is a three part approach: (1) preparation of a work plan to revise and strengthen service standards and business processes by LROs; (2) following this plan 28 and as part of simplification of standard operating procedures and modifications to the business processes will be carried out, and equipment and facilities such as computers, equipment for customer service area, feedback and assessment devices, and public display boards and panels will be provided to LROs; and (3) training modules on soft skills for LRO personnel and build up their capacities will be developed and delivered. This sub-component will help enhance the quality of land service delivery by mainstreaming nationally consistent LRO procedures, guidelines, and standards and establishing unified LRO service infrastructure necessary for the consistent implementation of Land Law 2013. The second sub-component will focus on the communication and awareness-raising programs, IEC materials, tools dissemination, and implementation and monitoring. The objective of this sub-component is to ensure that all concerned stakeholders and entities, including the public and private sectors, at national and subnational levels, and communities improve awareness of and confidence in the land administration system. The third sub-component will finance consultant services, hardware, software, training, and incremental operating costs. This sub-component will establish a system for regular and sustainable monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of land use and land management in accordance with Land Law 2013, the piloting and replication of a monitoring and evaluation system in the Project Provinces. This will entail developing monitoring and evaluation tools and instruments, which will cover the specific elements to be monitored, evaluated and reported at both national and sub-national levels.
The second component of the project is the establishment and development of the Multi-Purpose Land Information System and Land Database. This component will support: (i) technical assistance for the development of the software and MPLIS; (ii) finance leasing of infrastructure and equipment, purchasing software licenses and other related activities; (iii) implementation of the software for the national Multipurpose Land Information System (MPLIS)—the foundation for more efficient and transparent land governance, (iv) development of the national Land Database (NLD), including cadastral data, land price data, land use plan data, and land statistics and inventory; and (v) enabling public and inter-agency engagement in land information services, including the establishment of an MPLIS land portal with different interface for the Government, private sector and general public to facilitate access to and sharing of land information. This component is comprised of three sub-components: (a) Development and implementation of the Multi-Purpose Land Information System (MPLIS). (b) Development and implementation of the national land database. (c) Development of the land portal and enabling stakeholder engagement in land information through interfaces.
The third component is project management. The aim of this component is to support the overall supervision and coordination of project activities. This component comprises the following two sub-components: (a) Support to Project Management and (b) Support to Project M&E. For the first sub-component, it will provide technical assistance to support project management and improve the in-house capacity of GDLA at central level and in project provinces. Training will also be provided in project management, planning, financial management and procurement. For the second sub-component, the MONRE/GDLA will establish and implement an M&E system for regular monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of project activities and their achievements and compliance with safeguards and fiduciary requirements at all levels (central, province and district). The M&E system will be developed drawing from VLAP and other recent experiences. The M&E system will reflect the requirements of the new project, particularly the PRF and the changed information needs for management decisions and impact monitoring under the project. The detailed project M&E plan will be elaborated in the Project Operations Manual (POM). M&E will be implemented at national, province, LRO and district levels.
The overall risk rating for the project is substantial, mainly reflecting risks in the areas of sector policy, technical design, uneven implementation capacity, and fiduciary systems. First, although the sector’s key policy and strategies are enacted, there are large gaps between the policy framework and implementation and a lack of effective land policy and planning coordination. Second, the project covers a large number of diverse provinces and introduces new approaches to land database management (e.g., centralized data storage and use of cloud sourcing technology). Third, the intensive capacity building efforts under VLAP built up modest capacities at GDLA (CPMU and national level) to manage World Bank projects. However, at the sub-national level, capacity is still weak. The private sector also has limited capacity to meet demands for the large amount for technical work required under the project. Finally, the fiduciary risks in view of potential delays in procurement and implementation of the IT development and land registration works remain considerable. The lack of clarity around the MPLIS software requirements, MoNRE/GDLA’s limited experience using formalized software development methodologies, and the technical complexities involved in migrating data from the five different LIS applications currently in use also present substantial risks. Other risks are considered Moderate or Low.
On the most current ISR, issued December 7, 2017, it showed that these risks are moderate: political and governance, macroeconomic, and stakeholders. Those that were ranked as substantial risk are: sector strategies and policies, technical design of project, institutional capacity for implementation and sustainability, and fiduciary. The only one ranked as low was environment and social.
The relevance of this project is significant for Vietnam to continue its economic progress and development. As described previously, it is important to have a proper database for land registrations because Vietnam relies on land and natural resources for its economic development, but a significant proportion of land parcels are not registered with accurate geo-references and there is an inconsistency in implementation capacity between provinces, which causes a disconnect between the central policy/legal framework and implementation ground. The project would have less issues of implementation if the measures of mitigation included measures to ensure the completion of the technical design aspect of the project. The mitigation focused a lot on the financial management and implementing agencies due to lessons learned from previous projects. The project does a really nice job setting up the management and supervising aspects of the project, but it lacks in ensuring the creation of the software needed to implement the core of the project. The relevance of this project is significant for Vietnam to continue its economic progress and development. As described previously, it is important to have a proper database for land registrations because Vietnam relies on land and natural resources for its economic development, but a significant proportion of land parcels are not registered with accurate geo-references and there is an inconsistency in implementation capacity between provinces, which causes a disconnect between the central policy/legal framework and implementation ground.
The effectiveness date was on December 1, 2016, which means that there was a four-month effectiveness lag between the approval date and the original effectiveness date. There have been four ISR reports that have been released. The first ISR from November 23, 2016 listed the same PDO as the appraisal document. There were three rankings listed: the progress towards the achievement of the PDO as moderately satisfactory, the overall implementation progress as moderately satisfactory, and the overall risk rating being substantial. The ISR stated that the project effectiveness was pending because the Financing Agreement still needed to be signed by the government A number of Intermediate indicators do not have baseline values and dates, and/or do not have targets. These will have to be revisited, once baselines figures have been determined and the ISR Results Framework adjusted accordingly. The system requires values and dates to be entered in order to submit the ISR. This was discussed with management and this way forward was agreed. So, baseline dates all set at June 1, 2016 for now. The VILG Baseline study was scheduled to be completed at the end of the first quarter 2017, but given the delay with effectiveness this is more likely to be the end of the second or third quarter 2017. Also, the IDA credit was not effective yet because the effectiveness date was not until December 1, 2016.
In the second ISR report, released March 19, 2016, uses the same PDO as the first ISR and appraisal document. The overall rankings are the same as the previous ones. The implementation status says that the Bank has complete its First Implementation Support Mission during the period of February 20-24, 2017. The project’s Finance Agreements were signed on December 23, 2017. The approval of the POM is the only condition to be met for Project Effectiveness and it is expected that the project will be declared effective by March 23, 2017 as per the deadline. In preparation for project implementation, the General Department of Land Administration has made good progress in the development of the system for the Multi-Purpose Land Information System. The risk rankings are the same as the rating at approval and the previous rating. There was been no change in the baseline indicators. The status of the credit from the IDA is still not effective.
It is in the third ISR report, issued on July 18, 2016, is where there is an establishment of an effectiveness date, which is March 23, 2017. This is four months later than the effectiveness date that was issued upon approval. For the overall ratings, two ratings changed. The progress towards the achievement of the PDO was previously rated at moderately satisfactory has now changed the moderately unsatisfactory and the overall implementation progress that was previously rated at moderately satisfactory is now rated as moderately unsatisfactory. The overall risk rating is still considered substantial. The implementation status begins to detail the issues of the project. The Bank completed its Second Implementation Support Mission during the period June 12-23, 2017. The project was declared effective on March 23, 2017. However, due to the complex and slow government procedures, the project has not yet been included in the country’s Mid-Term Investment Plan (MTIP) with related budget allocation, including for the current year of 2017. The delay also impacts on the readiness of the project provinces since they cannot proceed with on-lending arrangements without having the project included in MTIP with budget allocated. These delays may seriously impact the project’s implementation schedule. To prepare for project implementation, the General Department of Land Administration (GDLA) and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) need to make the final decision on the software to be used for the Multi-Purpose Land Information System to finalize the system design in a timely manner. All risk ratings are the same as previously mentioned. As for the indicators, there has been no assigned approved project budgets, for either central or provincial levels, there has been no progress against the PDO Indicator targets or the Intermediate Results Indicator targets. The credit is now effective, but $146.04 million is undisbursed, which has changed from the previously undisbursed of $107.00 million. The disbursed amount is still at 0%. Also, the currency changed from XDR to USD. This is also the first ISR that included a cumulative disbursements chart (shown above).
The last ISR, which was released December 7, 2017, shows the same overall ratings as listed in the previous ISR. The Bank completed its Third Implementation Support Mission during the period November 6-10, 2017. The project has been included in the country’s Medium-Term Investment Plan (MTIP) with budget allocation for 2016-2020 for GDLA and 32 out of 33 project provinces. However, the budget allocation for 2018 is yet to be approved by the government. There are eight provinces (Thai Nguyen, An Giang, Ben Tre, Quang Ngai, Ha Tinh, Ha Nam, Bac Ninh and Nam Dinh) ready for the first-year implementation since they have been deemed eligible for the subsidiary loan arrangement by MOF. Among them, Quang Ngai will need to develop the Ethnic Minority Development Plan (EMDP) to be cleared by the Bank and approved by the Provincial People Committee (PPC) before it can begin project implementation. To prepare for project implementation, the General Department of Land Administration (GDLA) and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) need to make the final decision on the software to be used for the Multi-Purpose Land Information System to finalize the system design in a timely manner. An IT Expert Panel should be established to assist the VILG team and MONRE/GDLA to develop, integrate and deliver the MPLIS. The panel positions should be prioritized based on the short to medium term requirements of the project with funding directed to the two positions considered the most important for the initial project phases. The only change in the risk ratings is the switch from the environment and social category being changed from a moderate risk to a low risk. There has been no change in the improvements of the indicators. As stated in the previous ISR and this one, there has been no restructuring of the project to date.
Problem Descriptions and Impact of Problems
A main issue with the project design is that there are too few components to it and that the majority of the budget goes towards the second component, which is the Establishment and Development of the Multi-Purpose Land Information System and Land Database (MPLIS). Eighty-nine percent of the project’s budget it tailored towards this component, which causes the readiness of implementation to depend on this one component which has been clearly shown to be true with the latest ISR. There was a lot of focus on supervision to make sure the project would run smoothly due to the technical design issues of an ununiformed system throughout the provinces of Vietnam. At the time of implementation, the MPLIS had not been given an established software. Without the proper development of the MPLIS software, the actual implementation of the MPLIS cannot be done therefore holding up the project. The main concern that was listed under the risks identified at appraisal addresses the issue of possible uneven implementation because of a lack of a unified system. Additionally, the government continuously fails to approve budget allocations.
Since the Establishment and Development of the Multi-Purpose Land Information System and Land Database (MPLIS) lacks the development of software and the purchasing of software licensing, the implementation of the MPLIS cannot begin. If the government cannot settle on a software and begin the technical design along with coming up with specific ways to distribute this software, the project will fail. The project will fail because the other two components, strengthening the quality of land service delivery and project management, cannot be implemented. There is no way to improve the land service delivery if the MPLIS is not thoroughly developed. There is nouse for the project management component if there is no project to manage.
The issues pertaining to this project other than the software issue are the delays caused by the government, seem to be of little concern by the implementing agency. This is not the first project funded by the IDA for developing land records and databases. There was a recently completed World Bank-financed Vietnam Land Administration Project (VLAP, total investment of about US$90 million) that made good progress in improving access by all stakeholders to tenure security and land information services. The VILG team knows that their kind of project has worked before and it can work again. The framework of the government clearly shows that it can support such a project.
Effort to Date
There has not been any attempt from the government or the implementing agency to restructure the project. Though, in the last ISR, it was suggested to establish an IT Expert Panel to assist the VILG team and MONRE/GDLA to develop, integrate and deliver the MPLIS. The panel positions should be prioritized based on the short to medium term requirements of the project with funding directed to the two positions considered the most important for the initial project phases.
Available Options and Recommended Approach
The available options to get the project back on track is to kindly pressure the government into creating a detailed outline of how they wish the software to be structured along with additional components, the different ways they will apply it, who it is meant to reach, who has access to it, and the complexity they require. There needs to be a separate component to the project, apart from the existing three, to lay out these details for the software. The suggested IT expert panel is a good idea in the respects of kick starting the budget along with the implementation process. There should be an IDA staffer (the one subjected to restructuring) to help outline the new component to the project to ensure it stays on track and to be monitored by a third party. The IT panel will arrive only when the government has supplied a sufficient and detailed outline of the software development component.
This project is expected to become successful, it just is having delays that depend on the slow process of the Vietnamese government. Only the government begins to start spending the project money towards the creation of the software and the management of implementation, the project will be back on track. Similar land projects have been successful in Vietnam, it is likely that this project will be the same due to the fact that these simple complications have come up early on in the implementation process.
Implementation Support Cost Estimate
To further the project and fully begin the implementation process, eight staffers will arrive in the capital of Vietnam (Hanoi). Two of these people will be from the IDA, one will assist in budget adjustments to the projects new components and the other will work on restructuring the project. The other six people will be a part of the IT panel of experts. Their job ranges will include: software security and design, cabling structuring, virtualization, anti-virus and anti-malware, data backup and disaster recovery, and someone to train new personal on the system and help implement it. The consultants will stay for 40 days in Hanoi at the Lexington Service Apartments for $50 per night. The total for accommodations will be $8,000. The flights coming from Washington DC to Hanoi will cost $5,217.84. There is an extra $1,000 to account for car travels and any additional amenities that have not already been accounted for. The total cost of the implementation support team will be $270,217.84 (without tax) in USD.