Vietnam's Prime Minister earns around US$800 a month, a government spokesman announced at a press conference on Wednesday, amid public outcry that executives from some state-owned companies receive excessively high salaries.
According to Nguyen Kinh Quoc, deputy head of the government office's general division, PM Nguyen Tan Dung is paid VND17,167,000 per month, excluding social and health insurance fees.
Vietnam's annual per capita income was $1,555 in 2012.
Earlier this week, inspectors with Ho Chi Minh City's labor department announced that leaders at four local public service companies have been receiving "unusually high" salaries, as much as VND2.6 billion ($123,000) for the whole 2012, or about $10,250 each month.
Asked for a comment on the figures at press conference, Vu Duc Dam, head of the government's office, said they were "incorrect," because the government's decrees on executives' salaries at state-owned companies stipulate a cap of VND36 million ($1,700) a month.
Even when their companies earn high profits, bonuses must not exceed their salaries by more than 0.5 times, he said.
HCMC authorities and related agencies need to clarify the questionable salaries being given at involved firms and punish any violations, according to Dam.
In an interview with Thanh Nien later that same day, Le Hoang Quan, chairman of HCMC People's Committee said they were "determined" to punish wrongdoings, and retrieve excess money that the companies' leaders have been paid.
On the other hand, one of the four questioned companies, HCMC Park and Green Trees Company, has taken back more than VND1.2 billion that its leaders received excessively in 2011, director Tran Thien Ha said.
The company has also apologized to employees for allowing payment mistakes to occur under their watch, he added.
According to the city's inspectors, Ha was paid VND759 million last year, while its board chairman was paid VND691 million, its vice director received VND609 million, and its chief accountant got VND655 million.
The HCMC Urban Drainage Company, whose director was paid VND2.6 billion, or 41 times the salary of an average worker, said that it will "immediately" take measures to "compensate" workers for their losses.
Two other companies in question are the HCMC Public Light Company, whose director was paid VND2.2 billion; and the Sai Gon Traffic Works Company, where the director was paid VND856 million.
Previously, in an interview with online newspaper VnExpress, Tran Trong Hue, chairman of HCMC Public Light Company, said his firm did nothing wrong, and that people were paid in accordance with their labor. Hue was paid VND2.4 billion, the company's highest salary.
However, Pham Minh Huan, chairman of a council that consults the government on salary distribution, said there must be "problems" with the way the companies are calculating salaries, adding that they obviously did not follow pertinent regulations.
Under the government's regulations, the highest salary that leaders of public service companies can receive a month is about VND30 million, said Huan, also deputy minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has sent a letter to HCMC authorities, asking them to inspect all local public service companies and take actions if violations were found.
In the meantime, Nguyen Van Chin with the standing committee of the city's People's Council said the legislature's economic and budget commission will make plans to supervise future salary allocations at local public service companies.
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