Are SOE leaders being rewarded for incompetence?

TN News

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In its latest report tabled in the parliament, the State Audit Office of Vietnam has revealed that the leaders of the state-owned Vietnam Northern Food Corporation, better known as Vinafood 1, were paid VND56.5 million (US$2,686) a month each on average in 2011.

Those who are at helm of the Vietnam Southern Food Corporation, or Vinafood 2, received the average monthly salary of nearly VND79.8 million ($3,793).

The figures immediately made headlines in local media and were called "shockingly huge," given that the Vietnamese annual per capita income was around $1,555 in 2012, and a majority of the nation's citizens are struggling with the economic downturn that has lasted several years now.

The important thing is that the audit report did not mention other incomes of these leaders like bonuses and allowances that would take their real income to much, much higher levels than the reported figures. The question that follows is what kind of achievements have the company leaders recorded to justify such handsome incomes.

The only obvious fact people know about these companies is that both buy rice from farmers for export. Given that Vietnamese rice is priced lower than other countries, how effective have the leaders been?

Last year, similar shock was expressed over the earnings of the chairman of Vietnam National Petroleum Corp., or Petrolimex.

It has been a long time since Vietnam has stopped insisting on equality, and accepted that people who work more effectively and make more contributions to growth must be paid higher. But the change does not mean that we are willing to accept that leaders are rewarded with high incomes regardless of their poor performance and their companies' operations.

During the debt crisis in the Europe, many governments cut down on the salaries and bonuses of bank managers, despite their strong objections. So, we do hope that during the parliamentary session that started early this week, the National Assembly will clarify the issue of huge incomes paid to ineffective managers, deal firmly with those who have let this happen, and introduce necessary solutions.

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