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Science may suffer from deduction of nearly 3 billion Brazilian riyals in research - 05/27/2022 - Science

Science may suffer from deduction of nearly 3 billion Brazilian riyals in research – 05/27/2022 – Science

Research entities issued an alert, Friday (27), that a budget cut of nearly R$3 billion should happen at National Science later this year. The largest share of that amount comes from the FNDCT (National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development), a billionaire fund that researchers have been asking for for some time to be completely freed.

The Ministry of Science and Technology was contacted and did not respond. The Economy Ministry said it would not comment on the matter.

The alarm was sounded by the country’s two major scientific associations, ABC (Brazilian Academy of Sciences) and SBPC (Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science).

“It’s tragic,” says Helena Nader, president of ABC. “Brazilian science is over,” he says, referring to this money blockade and other bottlenecks and financial cutbacks for research that were taking place.

Of the R$4.5 billion available by the FNDCT for this year, R$2.5 billion will be frozen, more than half of the usable budget.

The FNDCT receives funds through the collection of fees and taxes, which are subsequently earmarked for the promotion of science.

According to the FNDCT’s plan for 2022, the amount committed for this year will be about R$ 3.5 billion, between projects that have already been contracted and others that are still starting to receive funds. The amount is less than the R$2 billion remaining after the funds were frozen.

More than a hundred investment in scientific projects can be affected by the freezing of resources.

Among them are large-scale actions such as Proantar (the Brazilian Antarctic Program), the Synthesis Center for Global Climate Change and Research on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation. It may also be reflected in studies and research groups in the fields of agriculture, health, mining, energy, and even national security and defense.

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In some cases, grants may also be affected, such as in the National Program to Support Young Physicians.

According to Nader, the budget that will be available will only be sufficient for the actions already underway (contracted governors).

The president of the ABC says that the FNDCT, which will have a healthier use being put to strategic programs, has become the lifeblood of the public science budget. “CNPq no longer has a budget. It relies on FNDCT,” she says.

The SBPC states, in a disclaimer signed by Renato Janine Ribeiro, the entity’s head, that the FNDCT funds are “sealed and should be used exclusively for scientific and technological research in the country.”

Nader and the Pakistan Economic and Social Council say the blockade is against the law. They cite Supplementary Law 177 of 2021. Paragraph 3 of Article 11 states that “the appropriation of budget amounts from sources linked to the FNDCT in contingency reserves” is prohibited.

As for the current cut, though, Nader claims the ministry will use semantics. “He says he didn’t cut it, he’s disrupting it. The ministry’s budget has been reduced by at least 40%.”

“It demands that the SBI and the executive branch respect applicable legislation and not continue to corner the billionaire on the already scarce resources of the National Science, Technology and Innovation System – SNCTI,” Ribeiro says in the memo. “We call on the National Congress to defend the approved budget and act to reverse these cuts, if they are confirmed. It is incredible that, even after all the contributions of science in these difficult years of the Covid-19 pandemic, science continues to be attacked by the federal government.”

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The association headed by Ribeiro classifies the budget block as an “attack by the federal government on Brazilian science”.

Along the same lines, Nader says he doesn’t think the cut won’t be random. “I think they don’t think they need science. It’s their national project. It’s not my project,” says the researcher, noting that science generates jobs.