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The release of R$5 billion from the National Science Fund sparked a government dispute

Foto: Rafael Henrique / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Amid a tight budget already in 2021, the Ministry of Economy (ME) is at odds with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) and members of the Board of Directors of the National Science and Technology Fund (FNDCT), over the fate of the FNDCT resources that the federal government can no longer block.

Documents were exchanged between the two folders, as a file was sent CNN Accessed, showing guidance from the Ministry of Finance, through a supplementary bill, on where R$5,048 billion should be issued. The amount was blocked from approval of the budget in the legislature.

With the overthrow of a presidential veto on the FNDCT Resource Restriction Prevention Bill, the government is looking for a way out that would allow the release of funds that were not initially planned to be spent.

The fund’s request is decided by the council, not the government. Paulo Geddes didn’t understand that yet. The fund’s budget has nothing to do with the ministry’s budget. They want to put in place something that has already been done, something that is already being done as if it were from the board,” criticizes Senator Izalchi Lucas, author of the bill that would prevent the government from relying on money from the fund.

Although the decision on the implementation of the resource has been taken by the Board of Directors of the FNDCT, which is chaired by MCTI Minister Marcos Pontes, the body has not held any meeting so far in 2021. As for a source involved in the negotiations on the destination of the amount, with maneuvering, the government is trying to get around Expenditure ceiling, as credit is not included in the financial base.

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The problem is that, at the same time, this makes money useless, which will not reach the companies. He explains that the money from the fund is sealed with a specific use, “and according to a letter from the Ministry of Economy sent to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, the division of the amount should be as follows:

– R$415.0 million will be allocated to credit related to the performance of clinical tests for vaccines through supplementary PL;
– R$ 305.0 million that can be used to cover the remainder of the credit required to conduct clinical vaccine tests through the decree of the Special Secretary for Finance;
– R$ 1,888.2 million will be allocated to reimbursable expenses earmarked for corporate technology development projects, in the form of a loan to Finep, through the supplementary PL;
– R$2,440.4 million will be allocated to FNDCT programming and servicing throughout the year, the agency indicated, through a supplemental and/or special invoice.

Among these indications, two have already been sanctioned by President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday (11): R$415 million to fund clinical trials of national vaccines against Covid-19, in phases 1 to 3 and another R$1.9 billion in supplementary credit to finance projects Technological development of companies through FNDCT.

However, it was the expectation of businessmen and members of the FNDCT Council that the money would be released “without stamping” via the bill. Senator Izalchi commented: “We are waiting for another PLN without a stamp, there is a promise that this will be redirected.”

vaccine source

By launching R$415 million, the Ministry of Transport and Communications will be able to reallocate resources from studies to develop the national vaccine against Covid-19. However, R$305 million is still missing from the total amount initially blocked.

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The reconfiguration of the two values ​​was already requested in a technical note issued in April, when the MCTI Secretariat for Scientific Research and Training advocated avoiding stopping funding actions for national research, development and innovation initiatives in progress. The document also reinforces the importance of the FNDCT to help the country progress in developing national vaccines against Covid-19.

“The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), Marcos Pontes, announced on 26/03/2021 that researchers funded with federal government funds submitted a request, on 25/03/2021, to the National Health Control Agency (Anvisa) to conduct tests for a vaccine against Covid -19, is called Versamune-CoV-2F MCTI. This is one of the projects that could benefit from the resources that are needed here,” he says.

When asked about the disagreement over the destination of the resources, the differences between the portfolios and criticisms of Senator Eiselchi Lucas, author of the project, the advisory services of the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation did not respond until this article was published.