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Science and Technology

Budget cuts

A cut of R$ 1.12 billion in the budget of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCT), the equivalent of 18% of the total for 2009, has brought a reaction from the scientific community. The presidents of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC), Marco Antônio Raupp, and of the Brazilian Academy of Science, Jacob Palis Jr., went public in their criticism of Congress, which sanctioned the cut in the final days of 2008. “It’s like shooting yourself in the foot”, said Palis. The current minister of the MCT, Sérgio Rezende, qualified the cut as “irresponsible”. A month later the Planning Ministry announced a reduction of R$ 37.2 billion in the Government budget, but this time Science and Technology was one of the least affected. The MCT lost 4.1% of the budget  earmarked for covering costs and investment, compared with the 79%, for example, of the Environment Ministry. According to the Minister of Planning, Paulo Bernardo, the reduction will allow the government to reallocate amounts to compensate those ministries most affected by the December cuts, like the MCT and the Ministry of Education. “There were cuts, such as in donations for scholarships, that are not feasible”, said the minister. In São Paulo, FAPESP published a note at the end of January to clarify that it is anticipated that the monthly amount due to the foundation, a constitutionally established percentage of the state’s taxes, will be transferred without any reduction. This is in line with recent Decree 53,938 which fixed the norms for the budget and finances in the Sao Paulo State administration.