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[HANOI] Vietnamese scientists at government institutions could receive massive pay rises under to a proposal unveiled by the ministry of science on 13 February.

Monthly salaries for scientists selected to participate in a pilot scheme will increase to US$1,000–2,000. Currently they are paid at the same rates as other civil servants, whose average monthly wage is about US$65.

Announcing the plan, Nguyen Quan, head of the science ministry's Cadre Organisation Department, said scientists whose research contributes to Vietnam's social and economic development deserve special treatment.

Scientists will be eligible if the National Council on Technology and Science Development considers their works to be critical to Vietnam's development.

Nguyen Van Tri, deputy head of Vietnam's parliamentary committee on science and technology says the policy could help stem the flow of Vietnamese scientists abroad or to positions within foreign companies.

He says that many scientists working in national research institutes struggle to make a living on their current salaries.

"Without a proper mechanism for supporting scientists, Vietnam will find it difficult to develop," he told SciDev.Net. "Applying modern science and technology is a shortcut that can help Vietnam develop quickly."

"Just two per cent of the state budget is currently invested in technology and science each year. This is a small sum and remains a major hurdle for the development of science and technology in Vietnam," he says.

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