Minister says five-fold increase needed in sci-tech investment

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Vietnam's Science and Technology Minister Nguyen Quan says the nation should increase investment in the sector by four or five times so that the sector can meet realistic demands.

 

Quan, who was appointed to the post recently, said Vietnam's science and technology capacity is ranked average in the Southeast Asia region below Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, and at a "humble position" in the world, news website VnExpress reported Friday.

 

Quan said Vietnam has been among the top winners at international Olympic competitions in science and technology, "but the country's scientific capacity in general was still low."

 

He said low investment in the sector was responsible for the situation.

 

The minister said Vietnam currently spends two percent of its budget on science and technology, like other countries in the world, but Vietnam's GDP is lower and thus its two percent has lower value.

 

And the technology sector in other countries also receives big financial support from private sources, usually five to 10 times higher than the government's investment, he said.

 

Investment in science and technology should be "four to five times higher than the current one," he said.

 

The current investment, including state budget funding and a small amount of business support, is around US$800 million year, while the need is $3-4 billion, said the minister, who is a former lecturer of the Hanoi Polytechnics University.

 

Quan said the country should raise more investment from businesses.

 

He said the Corporate Tax Law says that businesses can invest up to 10 percent of their pretax profits in science and technology, which means there's no specific obligation.

 

In fact, many scientific projects have returned their funding to the government, the minister said.

 

This happened not because the projects received more than they needed but because they were carried out so slowly and were canceled when they became outdated because of international innovations.

 

If the sector fails to attract increased investment, the country will be unable to even maintain payments to experts at universities, research centers and so on, Quan said.

 

"There will be a brain drain," he added.

 

Quan said that the Ministry of Science and Technology has proposed a plan to help scientists and officials in the field earn a better living by allowing them to earn money from their inventions by signing contracts with potential investors.

 

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