São Paulo – More than 90% of the main funding fund for science has been blocked by Jair Bolsonaro’s government, according to the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science (SBPC). This is the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT), which between 2006 and 2020 amounted to about R$25 billion under emergency, and more than 90% of it still held the so-called emergency reserve.
In an attempt to reverse the situation, the sector has been pressing for changes to be made in the background. So much so that last December, Supplementary Bill 135/2020, written by Senator Eiselchi Lucas (PSDB-DF) was approved by a vast majority in Congress.
Since then, FNDCT has started to rely on a source of revenue and also on the returns from its participation in the capital of innovative companies. In addition, he managed to use the financial balances from the previous year. Another change was the emergency ban on its resources.
Approved on December 17, the PLP was transformed into Supplementary Law 177/2021, which was approved in January. However, with the stroke of a pen, Bolsonaro vetoed precisely against provisions that prevented the restriction of resources.
In March, the veto was overruled by a large majority and again prevented the government from blocking the fund’s resources. But Bolsonaro, the declared enemy of science, has postponed the enactment of Supplementary Law 177/21. In doing so, approval of the Annual Budget Act (LOA) 2021, prior to the official publication of the veto repeal, allowed the government to maintain the resource allocation in the contingency reserve.
There are negotiations between the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism and the economic team for the gradual release of resources, but the Ministry of Economy is trying at any cost to postpone it. The Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, intends to determine how the resources of the Main Fund for Science will be used – which is not its legal source, but the FNDCT Board of Directors.
Another attack by Bolsonaro and his allies was through National Congress (PLN) Bill 8/2021, which allocates an additional credit of R$ 1.89 billion to the fund. Approved on the first of the month, it specifies that funds can only be released to fund corporate credit operations. Strategic projects developed by universities and science and technology institutions remain without resources.
Parliamentarians from various parties introduced 27 amendments to the bill with the aim of freeing up resources. But the Rapporteur of the National Liberation Party and the leader of the government in Congress, Senator Eduardo Gomez (MDB-TO), rejected them all.
“The PLN was approved the way the Minister of Economy wanted. And they did not accept any of our requests. It is absurd, because Congress itself does not seek compliance with LC 177/2021, which itself approved, by a large majority, two months ago, the extinguishing of the FNDCT emergency reserve ,” commented Ildeu de Castro Moreira, head of the SBPC.
As we have explained, these are essential infrastructure resources for laboratories, research institutions, and universities. And also for innovation in SMEs, through economic support, and also for projects by science and technology enterprises مؤسسات
Eldo assesses that the strategy of the ministry headed by Paulo Guedes is to fragment the release of FNDCT resources. As a result, part of the non-refundable resources will be released only at the end of the year, when there is no more time to use them. “It’s a practical violation of an approved law,” he adds.
The federal government has already dispatched two PLNs to unlock previously allocated FNDCT resources in the emergency reserve. However, neither project is fully releasing resources illegally held in the reserve.
Written by: Seda de Oliveira