The private sector's role in scientific and technological developments is very low in Viet Nam, Ho Ngoc Luat, director of the Department for Science and Technology for Localities, tells Dat Viet (Viet Land)
What is your assessment of science and technology developments in the country last year?
The 2013 Law on Science and Technology came into effect on January 1, 2014. Since then, nearly 1,300 research projects on various topics have been implemented. Of these, 317 have already been applied and serve the cause of national socio-economic development. Most of the applied projects were in the Song Hong (Red River) Delta (109), followed by the northern mountainous region (68) and the Cuu Long (Mekong) River Delta.
I should also say that most of the projects were focused on agriculture.
Can you say something about how funding for science and technology development has been channeled from the central Government to local administrations?
In 2014, the total investment reserved for science and technology was two per cent of the national budget, and nearly 25 per cent of it was spent on science and technology activities at local levels.
However, quite a few localities have misused this funding. It has been reported that only 60.5 per cent of the money was used properly.
Is there any mechanism in place to promote investment in science and technology by both public and private sectors, especially in provinces and cities?
The Fund for Science and Technology Development has been established in many localities. These funds have provided credit to enterprises, science and technology organisations and projects experimenting with new technologies. At the same time, enterprises have been instructed to reserve 10 per cent of their pre-tax profits for investment in research and development, as well as establishing their own fund for science and technology development.
However, not many enterprises, just a few dozen, have established such funds.
By now, most cities and provinces have done their best to encourage investment by non-state actors in science and technology development.
Enterprises have to function as catalysts in promoting sci-tech applications to increase productivity, efficiency and quality.
Under the Law on Science and Technology, the Government can support R&D projects with 30 per cent of the funding. This has motivated enterprises to spend money on research and apply results for their growth.
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2012, investments in research and development by Vietnamese enterprises account for about 22.4 per cent of the total funding for science and technology activities nation-wide.
In other countries, it is the other way around - between 65-70 per cent of the investment is made by the enterprises. In China, for example, the figure was 31.71 per cent in 1995, but this jumped to 55.24 per cent in 2000. In South Korea, the figure is between 70-75 per cent.
What are some of the measures we should take in the coming years to boost science and technology development in the country?
If we want to attract funding for science and technology activities, we should improve State management at different levels towards promoting their application in meeting socio-economic objectives.
We need to complete the legal framework that will enable proper implementation of Government Decree 95/2014/ND-CP issued on October 17, 2014.
Under this Decree, each State-owned enterprise has to reserve between 3-10 per cent of its profits to set up its own Fund for Science and Technology Development. Private enterprises are allowed to deduct up to 10 per cent of the tax levied on their profits to do the same. — VNS