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Academic entities intensify their criticism of the government after cutting resources by 90%

Published on 12/10/2021 06:00

Pontes and Bolsonaro were, on Friday, at an event organized by the Science Ministry. The cuts were made two days ago – (credit: Isac Nobrega/PR)

The government’s decision to cut nearly 90% of the budget of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) provoked the discontent of the scientific and academic community, which intensified criticism of the government, especially of Minister Marcos Pontes. According to the project approved by Congress, at the request of the Planalto Palace, the resources of science and technology were reduced from R$ 655.421 million to R$ 7.222 million – 1.10% of the original proposal. Entities in the sector warn that the funding crackdown is jeopardizing the preservation of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and violently affecting many of the studies underway in the country.

In a joint memo, the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC), the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC), the National Association of Postgraduate Students (ANPG) and the National Academy of Medicine (ANM) warned that the state emergency is illegal, and they are studying measures to reverse the decision in Congress. And in court. The document was sent to federal representatives and senators.

We appeal to all parliamentarians to put an end to the diversion of resources from Brazilian science. Brazil needs science, technology, innovation, education. It is unacceptable that the resources allocated to the sector be transferred to other jobs, in the absence of legislation,” in protest of the entities.

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The SBPC found that cuts in the CNPq budget directly affect the implementation of already announced projects. They are: Universal Call 2021, R$200 million; R$100 million from inviting institutions into the school’s science program; R$ 280 million from the National Institutes of Science and Technology (INCTs); R$ 24 million from the master’s and doctoral program for innovation; R$ 30 million from Young Doctors’ projects; 40 million Rls from the so-called researcher in the company (Human Resources Training Program in Strategic Areas / RHAE); and R$50 million from the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), the New High School Support Program (Pronem) and the Centers of Excellence Support Program (Pronex).

In light of this scenario, the Social Science Advisory Council, jointly with other national scientific and academic entities, will convene on the 15th National Defense of Science Day. Coinciding with Teacher’s Day, the idea is to mobilize the community in a movement to defend science, technology, innovation and education in the country.

Loss of staff

Sonia Bao, full professor at the University of Brasilia (UnB) and regional secretary of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC) Secretariat in the Federal District, noted that the cut was “something unprecedented” in 34 years. in the academy. A funding cut of this magnitude is a catalyst for the country’s “brain drain”.

“Amid the pandemic, everything that has been done so far has been through science, which translates to universities. This cut means stopping everything that is being done. Science is not the same as building a house and restoring it later when you have the money: you have continuity to invest in research or You have to start over. That’s what we’re going through in Brazil. “A tragic and worrying situation,” he said.

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Sonia complains that the interruption means a loss of the scientific workforce within the country and points out that doctors are leaving Brazil due to a lack of perspective – being “embraced” abroad due to their high level of knowledge. “It is not undressing a saint to try to cover up another saint that would solve the problem. If we are to look for solutions in a society that can eat and be healthy, it is through health, science, education and innovation. Investing in this is investing in the economic strength of the country. This Medium and long-term results. The picture is disturbing. It literally makes you want to cry,” she said.

According to a professor at the Institute for the Evaluation of Education and Research of the State of São Paulo (Ivepesp), Helio Dias, the entire national scientific community was surprised. He noted that “it happened that one of the sore points in the project simply disappeared: the release of 515 million Brazilian reais to encourage research, which will be reallocated to the benefit of CNPq.”

The professor stated that in addition to not releasing 690 million R$ in the event of non-fulfillment of the commitments made with the sector, about R$2 billion from the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FNDCT) is still being allocated, in clear violation of Supplementary Law 177 / 2021. “It is incomprehensible that Congress should allow its resolutions, democratically expressed in approving the laws of a country, to continue to be ignored by last-minute maneuvers. Priority must be given to science – science is life! PLN 16/2021, and the struggle to stop the FNDCT, whose work in the STF has ceased,” he noted.

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Without a solution to the country’s science paralysis crisis, apparently, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes, described the reduction promoted by the Ministry of Economy as “something that is done without listening to the sector”, “a disregard” and something that “needs urgent reform.” “. The project removed R$690 million from the portfolio led by Pontes and transferred it to other sectors.

The resource block was announced on the 7th, when Congress will also vote on a budget bill that would ensure CNPq pays out scholarships for researchers. However, the project was modified and funds withdrawn.
His aides, President Jair Bolsonaro, complained about Pontes’ criticism of the government on social networks. He has also come under heavy attack on the platforms by pocket militancy, who sees the minister’s indignation as an “unnecessary revelation” and needs to be “patienced”.

* Trainee under the supervision of Fabio Gresci