HCMC advised to attract, keep talent with market-driven salaries

By Thu Hang   July 31, 2022 | 09:20 pm PT
HCMC advised to attract, keep talent with market-driven salaries
Experts at the BioTechnology Center of HCMC. Photo by the center
HCMC has paid talented people including scientists very low salaries, which should be raised to at least VND120 million (US$5,100) a month, experts said.

In 2016, as part of a program to attract talent to public agencies on a trial basis, the Saigon Hi-Tech Park, now in Thu Duc City, invited four scientists including three foreigners and paid them VND50 million a month and provided them with accommodation.

Within three years they had helped the city build a flood warning system, set up the most modern and unique laboratory in the country and ink a $400,000-project with the Australian and Japanese governments, Ngo Vo Ke Thanh, director of the park's research and development center, said at a conference in HCMC on Saturday.

"The benefits those scientists brought are significant compared to the money the city has spent."

However, once the program's trial phase ended after five years the salary policy changed.

Experts and professors and associate professors are entitled to level 2 of state salaries, equivalent to VND13-14 million a month, besides an initial allowance of VND100 million.

"How can they live on this income?" Thanh asked.

He said the city should cap their salaries at VND120-150 million per month as it had done during the trial phase and let employers and foreign scientists and experts negotiate between themselves.

The city also needs to have policies for experts to benefit from products they helped create when they are commercialized, he said.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, head of the city Department of Planning and Architecture’s general planning management division, called for speeding up funding for research.

The city has achieved "many breakthroughs" but disbursement for their research has been slow, he said.

There have been projects that cost only a few hundred million dong (VND100 million = $4,300) but waited for years for relevant agencies to disburse the money, he said.

He suggested that the city should trial new models such as a public-private partnership funding for urban development.

With money from them, the city could invite foreign experts and pay them market salaries, he said.

"The cost will not be too high, but the result could be urban areas worth billions of dollars."

In June the chairwoman of the city’s legislative People’s Council, Nguyen Thi Le, had said the talent attraction program did not have the resources to get outstanding candidates.

The program expires this year and HCMC is working on a new one that will be submitted to the National Assembly later this year.

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