Overseas diplomatic staff may get a long overdue pay bump

September 14, 2017 - 07:00

The National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) yesterday discussed the Government’s draft decree on managing and using State funds for external affairs.

Chairman of the NA Finance and Budget Committee Nguyễn Đức Hải speaks at the meeting yesterday in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyễn Dân
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – The National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) yesterday discussed the Government’s draft decree on managing and using State funds for external affairs.

The NASC agreed on setting aside some money collected from diplomatic activities to cover the expenses of Vietnamese diplomatic entities overseas and the living expenditures of staff.

The Government said that at present the funds provided by the State Budget only covered a portion of the money needed for purchasing and building offices for Việt Nam’s entities abroad, let alone funds for maintenance.

In addition, the minimum level of living expenditure for staff and their dependants had not been adjusted since a Government decree released in 2005, meaning the funds for living expenses have been well below what’s required for living standards in host countries.

At present, the Foreign Affairs Ministry uses fees collected from embassy business, granting visas for example, to add to incomes of the staff in overseas offices.

Delivering a report on opinions from the NA Finance and Budget Committee, Chairman Nguyễn Đức Hải said that most NASC deputies agreed with the new regulation in the draft decree.

Deputy Lê Thị Nga, Chairwoman of the NA Legal Committee, said few Vietnamese embassies had suitable facilities.

“Low incomes have made the staff and their dependants face many difficulties, especially their children’s integration in new educational environments”, Nga said.

Setting aside some money collected for enhancing activities and improving living standards of staff and their families in diplomatic offices was essential, she said.

The NA Deputy Chairman Phùng Quốc Hiển said that using fees collected from diplomatic activities would depend on the amount collected each year, while revenues and expenditures should be approved by the National Assembly.

Gender issues

In the meeting yesterday, the NASC also discussed the Government’s report on the implementation of the National Targets of Gender Equality.

According to the report, since 2016, gender equality activities have been carried out based on measures set in the National Strategy on Gender Equality in 2011-2020, and National Targets of Gender Equality in 2016-2020.

The Government had asked localities, related ministries and agencies to realise recommendations by the NA Social Affairs Committee about gender equality enhancement including reviewing the five-year implementation, integrating gender equality issues in legal documents, promoting information dissemination, and fostering knowledge among staff working in gender equality and policy planning in ministries, sectors and localities.

According to the report, thanks to efforts of ministries, sectors and localities, gender equality implementation had achieved encouraging results. Policies and legal regulations on the issue had been gradually completed, creating favourable conditions for women in various fields.

The percentage of women in the NA and local People’s councils for 2016-2021 been dramatically increased, however, there were shortcomings in gender equality. So far, only six out of 22 targets in the National Strategy on Gender Equality have fulfilled requirements.

Many targets were unreachable as they were too ambitious, per the report.

To enhance gender equality, the Government plans to adjust some targets to ensure their feasibility and effectiveness.

After assessing the Government report, the NA Social Affairs Committee asked the Government to instruct ministries, sectors and localities to include gender issues in policies and development plans.

The Government should consider some targets as priorities to realise in the coming year so as to successfully fulfill the strategy.

In the meeting, the NA Legal Committee chairwoman Lê Thị Nga said the report should clarify some issues such as violence against women and girls, women and children trafficking, gender imbalance at birth, and policies on prison female wardens.

Meanwhile, chairwoman of the National Assembly’s Ombudsman Committee, Nguyễn Thanh Hải, said that the report needed to tackle the spate of firings of female workers aged over 35.

She said the three main reasons of the situation were unclear legal corridors, ineffective inspection, and under-qualified female employees.

In the afternoon session, deputies discussed revised Law on Environment Protection Tax. – VNS