The deputy head of the wage division of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Hoang Minh Hao, spoke to the newspaper Hai Quan Cuoi tuan (Weekend Customs) about how to ensure a reasonable wage for workers.
Given the lack of funding to subsidise pay rises, how will the Government streamline the public service to facilitate national wage reform?
Public servants' salaries remain low, but they, together with allowances, account for a high percentage of State budget expenditure. This is something we must resolve as soon as possible.
According to the Institute of Strategy and Policy on Finance, salaries and allowances in 2011 accounted for almost 51 per cent of recurrent expenditure, or about 9.6 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). In the previous year, the figure was just 6.7 per cent of GDP. In addition to that, preferential treatment for disadvantaged groups and people who have contributed to the nation including war invalids, their families and martyrs have increased. This has taken a large portion from the State budget.
If we implement this salary reform, I'm afraid to say it will further aggravate inflation, and the number of public servants is on the rise. It will be a burden on society.
In my opinion, it is high time we reduced the number of workers earning a living off the State budget, and introduce performance based salaries.
How can we reduce the number of public servants?
At the fourth meeting of the National Assembly (13th tenure), many deputies raised the issue of pay increases. They suggested that to lessen the burden on the State budget during the economic downturn while retaining sustainable wages, the Government should reduce public investment, and handle bad debt and losses from the state budget. They emphasised the need to streamline the existing cumbersome management mechanism and to slash the pay-roll while implementing a performance based payment system.
If we can design a model in line with what I have mentioned above, I'm sure workers and their dependants can live comfortably.
Do you mean in the future, public servants will be able to live off their salaries?
Yes, the Government must continue to increase the salaries of people working in the administrative sector. However, for those work in the service sector, we are introducing plans to increase hospital fees, school tuition fees and other basic public services. We will use this money to pay the salaries of those employed in the sector. In addition, we can take some profits generated by these services to transfer to the administrative sector to pay for public servants.
However, whatever we do, it must be outlined in a roadmap.
What challenges do you see in the plan to reduce the number of civil servants?
We are about to introduce a salary reform plan from 2014 for the next six years.
For our country, we have to take it step by step. I think we have already taken some initial steps in the salary reform plan. The biggest challenge we are facing is how to improve the performance of existing staff. We must try to avoid placing relatives of influential families in positions of importance unless they merit the role. — VNS