January, 04 2012 09:02:00

Civil servant wages should reflect job title, performance

A proposal has been made to raise the monthly minimum wage for State employees from the current $40. The newspaper Thoi bao Tai chinh Viet Nam (Viet Nam Financial Times) spoke to experts about the issue.

Dr Thang Van Phuc, former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs

Salary policy needs to be adjusted as the current salary of civil servants does not properly reflect their labour value. It is crucial to re-design payroll, minimum wage levels and allowances because they are insufficient and result in low efficiency of civil servants and workers. This in turn complicates the evaluation process. As a key part of administrative reform, salary policy must be adjusted so that payment is suited to work performance, acting as a kind of investment in human resource development.

Dr Nguyen Huu Dung, former director of Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs

Salary reform for State officers and employees during 2013-20 needs to avoid the vicious cycle of previous ones, where people could not live on just their salary alone and therefore sought extra-income. Meanwhile, raising the minimum wage will increase the burden on the State budget. In the latest reform, salary is expected to make up 75-80 per cent of the total income of workers and be based on position and work performance as well. A road map to implement this position- and performance-based salary must be clearly drawn. It is necessary to have a proper legal framework, following the Party's viewpoint on salary. Paying a proper salary is one way in particular to develop human resources, reduce corruption and improve the efficiency of the country's administration. Moreover, salary must be the major source of income, enough to support a worker's living standard. Salary should additionally be compatible with labour costs and other special features of certain jobs.

Dang Nhu Loi, former chairman of National Assembly's Committee for Social Affairs

I found one point in the proposal for salary reform rather vague, which is that "State officers and employees are able to lead relatively comfortable lives thanks to their company". It is difficult to define "relatively comfortable" because who will do it and how will salary be adjusted in line with it? So, in my opinion, the salary of State officers and employees should be at least as much as that of enterprise employees. Actually, there is a salary gap between State and private sectors. The salary for State officers and employees should be adjusted based on the average income of those working in the production and business sector. Now, the salary adjustment is still based on minimum wage imposed by the Government and has coefficients ranging from 1 to 13 depending on job categories, positions and experience.

Dr and Associate professor Tran Xuan Cau, from Ha Noi National Economics University

I have not found the proposed reforms to be innovative as they hardly mention the link between salary reform and improvement of work performance, responsibility and awareness of State officers and employees. In addition, the Labour Code regulates that minimum wage be based on the customer price index (reflecting inflation) and that salary not only ensure small investments, but also be able to be accumulated for extended investments. This basic need must be put into consideration because it will help identify a minimum living standard and then, what a better living standard would look like. I prefer Option Three with the minimum wage of VND3.15 million ($150) because it is most suitable to the proposal's objective. However, it has the disadvantage that the average income is currently only released every two years by the General Statistics Office, and somehow, not updated. — VNS

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