Economic Crisis in Science

“Brazilian science paralysed by economic slump,” warns Nature

The influential science publication Nature has laid bare the abrupt reversal being experienced by scientists in Brazil, where for a decade booming funding allocations and growing prestige for federal and state agencies had generated unsustainable optimism.

Now in a stunning reversal and just months after leftist president Dilma Rousseff used her second inaugural address to promise she would turn Brazil into a “country of education,” research budgets are being slashed by 25% and more, with critics saying that science in Brazil could be dragged back to where it was 20 years ago if the austerity programme goes through unchecked.

You can read the Nature article by clicking here: Highlights of the funding cuts the 30th September article reports include:

  • The 2016 budget proposal issued in September cuts 24% from the federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) compared to 2015.
  • In May the administration had previously chopped the MCTI’s budget by almost 2 billion reais (US$500 million), or some 25% (the ministry’s spending limit has since shrunk further).
  • The federal government reportedly plans merge its two main funding agencies, CNPq and CAPES.
  • The National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), has cut the R$200-million funding stream for its ‘universal’ call that last year funded more than 5,000 projects.
  • Junior postdoctoral fellowships part-funded by the CNPq seem to have been frozen from September 2015.
  • A 75% cut to a Ministry of Education graduate programme is making it harder for federally-funded universities across Brazil to keep research labs open.
  • State-backed regional funding institutions (some of which depend on a flow of federal funds) are reportedly reducing or postponing programmes, some by as much as 50%.
  • Rio’s state funding agency FAPERJ Rio de Janeiro’s funding agency, which has had an annual budget of R$450 million, has received less than 60% of its promised allocation so far this year.
  • Although São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) has received all of its mandated funds and has an endowment large enough to cover any shortfalls, it is also affected by shrinking state tax revenues.
  • Science minister Aldo Rebelo is seeking a US$2 billion loan from the Inter-Ameri­can Development Bank, headquartered in Washington DC. This will help to pay for planned National Science and Technology Institutes.

 

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