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A Federal agenda

The Ministry of Science and Technology comes to FAPESP to present the new government directives for this sector

FAPESP received on the 13th of last March a visit from the Minister of Science and Technology, Ronaldo Sardenberg. In a meeting with the President of the Foundation, Dr. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, and with the Scientific Director Dr. José Fernando Perez, Minister Sardenberg presented the new directives drawn up by the Federal government for its policy on science and technology within the so-called Government Agenda for the Biennium 2001-2002, released by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso five days previously.

The execution the actions of SeT predicted in the agenda will be closely followed by the National Council of Science and Technology, an organ of the President of the Republic made up of eight ministers and eight representatives of the national scientific community*, among them the Scientific Director of FAPESP. This Council, that on the 22nd of last March had its third meeting chaired by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, has the mission of proposing plans, goals and priorities for the Federal government, to bring about evaluations relative to the execution of the national policy of science and technology and to give opinion on proposals, programs and normative acts of regulation in this area.

The directives of the Federal Agenda bring a built-in expectation that the ten sectional support funds for scientific and technological development, created last year, can guarantee for the area, still this year, a further R$ 800 million, that will be added to the budget resources of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Among the plans of the Ministry of Science and Technology is also the elaboration of a Law of Knowledge for the country, with the objective of eliminating obstacles for the application of knowledge on the part of researchers and university professors, to stimulate their business capacity, and the revision of the Law of Incentives to the private sector for investments in research and development (ReD), in order to induce a greater participation by Brazilian companies in the activity of the generation of knowledge in the country.

With the reinforcement of sectional funds, the national investments in R and D should be greater than 1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “The directive that we have for the next ten years is to have Brazil approach the average standard of the countries that are part of the Organization of Cooperation and Economic Development (OCDE), whose investments in SeT are in the vicinity of 2.4% to 2.5% of their GDP.” said Minister Ronaldo Sardenberg.

On a visit to FAPESP, Minister Sardenberg observed that “in São Paulo, any effort of the Federal government to increase the performance in science and technology means working jointly with FAPESP.” He added that this effort must also involve the Department of Science, Technology and Development of the State of São Paulo. São Paulo, he argued, “is the object of between 30% and 35% of the actions of the Ministry. Here, various institutions, such as the National Institute of Synchronized Light (LNLS) and the Institute of Energy and Nuclear Research (Ipen), are strong. The National Spatial Research Institute (Inpe), for example, consumes more than half of the Federal investments in research institutes.”

FAPESP has already developed efforts along with the Ministry. “The National Project of Biotechnology, for example, incorporates parts of the Genome Program of FAPESP, and has the same coordinator of the Genome Project of Xylella, Dr. Andrew Simpson. We hope to deepen the interaction in a way as to have more organic collaboration including actions in other areas of knowledge.” said the President of the Foundation, Dr. Brito Cruz.

Resources for scholarships
The plans of the Federal government for SeT during the next two years, include the expansion of the programs of scholarships for masters and doctorates; reaching the sum of R$ 200 million of investment in the infrastructure of high school education and the creation of new sectional funds also in the areas of biotechnology, aeronautics, health and agronomy, as well as the implementation of a network of data communication – the RNP2 – capable of giving support to research and reinforcing the capacity of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), among others.

One of the points on the Federal Agenda which has already been put into operation plans the setting up of a Center of Studies and Strategic Management, destined to draft the directives for the usage of the resources from the 10 sectional funds. It will need to establish priorities for the investment of these resources in collaboration with agencies such as the Financier of Studies and Projects (Finep) and the CNPq, besides following up and evaluating the researches carried out within the country. “Everywhere in the world, there is an emphasis on science and technology. Brazil is participating in this world competition which leads to a concentration of knowledge. It is necessary to adopt strategic measures so that the country keeps itself in the race, and profits from it and improves its relative position.” stated the Minister.

*The permanent members of the National Council of Science and Technology to the President of the Republic, Professor Fernando Henrique Cardoso (President of the Council) are: the Ministers of Science and Technology, Ronaldo Sardenberg (Executive Secretary); Defense, Geraldo Quintão; Development, Industry and Exterior Commerce, Alcides Tápias; Education, Paulo Renato Souza; Finance, Pedro Malan; National Integration, Fernando Bezerra; Planning, Budget and Administration, Martus Tavares; External Relations, Celso Lafer.

The nominated members of the Council are: Carlos José Pereira de Lucena (PUC-RJ); Eduardo Moacyr Krieger (Brazilian Academy of Sciences); Fernando Galembeck (Unicamp); Hermann Wever (Commercial and Industrial Chamber – Brazil/Germany); José Fernando Perez (FAPESP); Ozires Silva (Varig); Paulo Haddad (UFMG); Roberto Santos (UFBA)