Amended Law on Science and Technology with five breakthrough points

Posted at: FRIday - 04/10/2013 18:29 - post name: Nguyễn Thị Thùy

 
Amended Law on Science and Technology with five breakthrough points

The amended Law on Science and Technology recently approved by the National Assembly will take effect in 2014 with a number of changes, including breakthrough changes compared with the current law. This law is expected to create a new development step for Vietnam’s science and technology. So that how those changes actually are through analyzing five important issues legislated in the first time.

1. Methods for investment in S&T

In addition to the state investment at least equal to 2% of total budget expenditure (Article 49), the enterprises are forced to spend a part of their earnings before tax for the reinvestment into R&D research by establishing the enterprise’s Science and Technology Development Fund (Articles 55 and 56). It should be aware that in the developed countries, the majority of investment money for scientific and technological researches comes from enterprises; just only 25-30% from the state is spent for basic researches and applied research projects with strategic importance. That enterprises spend funding for R&D researches by the form of carrying out researches by themselves and/or placing an order with the Laboratories of Institutes/universities is not only regulations in the law but also enterprises’ needs for themselves in the innovation for competition in the national and international scales. In our country, because of the enterprises’ small capacity and low requirements for innovation to exist and develop, not many of them are aware of this by themselves. Nowadays, whether they like it or not, the enterprises have to deduct a part of their profit for the reinvestment in R&D researches for technological innovation and product productivity and quality improvement (Articles 55, 56, and 63).

2. State budget management and use for S&T researches

Basically innovated through the Science and Technology Development Funds of the country and Ministries, sectors, as well as provinces (Article 59, 60, and 61), the model of Science and Technology Development Fund is essentially an advanced model of budget management and use applied in most of countries. This Fund model enables the funding management and use in a lump sum to the final product without administrative management stage, payment and settlement by plan year, which is complicated and cumbersome and takes too much time and efforts of both scientist and managers. The methods of Fund management and allocated expenditure to the final product (Article 52) even can use the budget to buy the scientific and technological products from scientists. These breakthrough regulations not only raise the true scientists’ responsibilities but fix many loopholes for those under the cloak of scientific research to seek profit as well.

3. S&T Organizations

All organizations and individuals have rights to propose research ideas in the forms of subjects and projects. On that basis, the S&T Organizations will gather, select, and place an order with the scientists (Article 26). The model of placing an order with the scientists is considered as an optimal method with aim at associating the S&T research purposes with the practical issues and avoiding the situation that research outcomes are stored in cabinet without being coming up with practice after acceptance. When receiving an order, with binding conditions, the scientists have to take responsibilities for completing the targets and research products and hand the results over to the S&T Organizations who ordered.

4. Position and function as commander in chief of S&T sector

The first amended Law on Science and Technology specifies the rights and duties of the Ministry of Science and Technology with full powers in from planning the 5-year plans and proposing funding sources for implementing S&T duties to managing and supervising the effective use of funding on the national scale. The other Ministries and sectors play a participatory or subordinated role for the issues within their scope.

5. Usage and remuneration polices for S&T officials

As one of breakthrough points, the amended Law specifies a series of remuneration polices on wages, responsibility allowances, and attending the International Conference for the leading and highly qualified scientists and those who preside over national subjects and projects (Article 23). Specially, the law’s regulations create favorable conditions for the top-level scientists to invest facilities and human resources for research organization and idea implementation. The amended Law also encourages the talented young scientists to advance by promoting and removing the longtime barriers “song lau len lao lang” (He owes his position to seniority and nothing else).  Up to now, the qualified young scientists with worthy achievements can be appointed to a high position without enough seniority as previously. The scientists enjoys preferential personal income tax treatment for their earnings from S&T activities.  The Law also specifies remuneration regime for the overseas Vietnamese scientists and international experts participating with Vietnam in the research programs and projects (Article 24).

Restrictions

Besides the aforementioned breakthrough points, the amended Law on Science and Technology exists a number of issues not addressed or paid adequate attention.  The two most important factors for a developed S&T included, scientific researcher/engineering researcher and scientific research / research development systems, are hardly legislated. 

S&T research is a particular form of intellectual labor for only those with a passion for creation, methodical train, and appropriate degree. It is they who have the ability to create true brainchild. Because of no clear criteria for evaluating the scientists or researchers, now 70% of S&T research staffs are sitting in a wrong place and majority of them become invisible barriers in the S&T research organizations. As long as no clear criteria for scientific and technological civil servants, the determination of leading scientists and technologists and high-level experts to honor and treat as specified in Articles 22, 23, 24, 77, and 78 becomes meaningless or causes giving the honor and treatment to wrong objects. This not only wastes the national financing but also give rise to offensiveness in the scientific community.

For a true developed science and technology, at first, it needs to have or rather train a team of expert and standard S&T researchers, who can take risks, love exploitation, and dare sacrifice their life for S&T. Therefore, the education and training needs radically changing to create a generation who are aware of skepticizing for creating something new; at the same time, the research environment needs well building up with an optimal and synchronous S&T research institution for mutual support and development, but not striping others up or containing others in the operation period as now. Unfortunately, the two both core issues have not been fully legislated or properly respected in the amended Law on Science and Technology this time.

Another problem is that the input eligibility criteria and evaluation criteria of the topic acceptance are hardly specified. Once having no clear criteria, the evaluation and approval still base on the appraiser’s emotions and that will be the chance for many poor quality and unfeasible proposals to slip through the net.

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Although a number of problems cannot be changed promptly or overnight, the amended Law on Science and Technology with a numbers of breakthrough regulations will contribute into creating legal corridor in S&T management in accordance with the international practices, making scientific research more practical, and reducing the gaps between research and practice of the country.

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(1) Compared with the 2000 Law on Science and Technology (with 8 Charters and 59 Articles), the 2013 amended Law (including 81 Articles divided into 11 charters), removes 17/59 articles, modifies 42/589 articles, and supplements 39 articles

Author: Translated by Nga Nguyen
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