As many of you know, last week the government made a profound amendment to the 16th National Congress Bill. It was A strong blow to the Brazilian flag, which has already received funds from a prior agreement between the legislative and executive branches. In this text, I will try to explain the effect of the measure.
Originally, the text of the measure was intended for R$690 million for scientific research. Of this amount, 655 million R$ came from the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT), a tax-backed amount that should be applied exclusively to science and technology.
However, for several years the government has been diverting money to other purposes, such as paying off public debt. After a long struggle by the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science and other academic entities, Congress decided that the FNDCT should be applied to science again.
However, the PLN was completely changed, and ministries such as Regional Development and Civil Defense began receiving more than R$100 million each.
The production of radiopharmaceuticals, one of the main objectives of the original project, also benefited a total of R$82 million. It’s a very important expense, no doubt, but it’s not related to scientific discovery per se, but rather to public health.
For the sake of science itself? 7 million a meager R$1, or just over 1% of the original forecast.
This action is disastrous as it harms previously undertaken obligations, such as maintaining scholarship payments to scholars. I can’t say how this will be maintained until the end of the year.
Another prime example is the Global Notice of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Traditionally, this is the most democratic call for science funding in the country, because, as its name suggests, it is “universal”: all scientists from all fields can apply for help.
Due to lack of funds, Universal was suspended for a few years. The country’s academic community has celebrated his return.
However, the new format of the call is already facing criticism. The estimated funds were R$250 million. It might sound like a lot, but considering the four-year duration for each project and the newly established need for groups of scholars, the cap would be less than R$10,000 per researcher per year.
Compare this with the projected annual spending of millions of women leaders on labs looking for vaccines and treatments against diseases like COVID-19 to understand the scale of the problem. in a Article in Folha de S.PauloAnd Alicia Kowaltowski, Paulo Nussensvig and Stevens Ryan, some of the country’s most respected researchers, call the notice “crumbs.”
Now, not even that. The budget for public notice will come from PLN 16, and it remains to be seen if any project will be considered. There were 30,000 Brazilian researchers who did their best to solicit the money, an act that would have been for nothing.
The Economy Ministry, which requested the budget changes, says the available funds have not been used. Ask 30,000 researchers, fighting for the “crumbs,” if they agree with this statement.
This week, Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes was surprised by the changes. It is not time for surprises and slogans, it is time to fight for the national sciences. It’s time to confront the recurring wounds suffocating and atrophying Brazilian research.
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