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Pressure and dialog

Forum of the FAPs analyzes measures to guarantees the handing over of state funds

The federal government’s intention of deconcentrating research activities and stimulating the generation of knowledge in the various regions of the country has an obstacle in the lack of willingness of the state governments to comply with the legislation and hand over in full the funds due to the Research Support Foundations (FAPs). São Paulo is the only exception: it complies with the state constitution and hands over to FAPESP 1% of the amount collected as Value-Added Tax on Sales and Services (ICMS). Without resources, the great majority of the FAPs have to adopt drastic measures, like suspending the granting of scholarships and making invitations for projects, which jeopardizes the development of research. But, slowly, a climate of reaction is beginning to form.

In June, a group of 200 researchers occupied Liberty Square, which houses the seat of the government of Minas, to demand that 1% of the ICMS should be handed over in full to the State of Minas Gerais Research Support Foundation (Fapemig). In the South, a movement is being organized in defense of the State of Rio Grande do Sul Research Support Foundation (Fapergs). Compliance with the law and the effective handing over of funds to the foundations is one of the main and one of the oldest demands made by the National Forum of the FAPs, created in 1996. At the last meeting, held in São Paulo on July 29 and 30, representatives of 22 states had a meeting with Dalmo Dallari, the jurist, who at the Forum’s request carried out a study of the statutes of the various foundations and of the state constitutions, to assess the legal aspects of the failure to hand over funds.

“The idea is provide the state movements with ammunition. There has to be pressure and dialog”, says Francisco Romeu Landi, the president of the Forum of the FAPs and director-president of FAPESP’s Executive Board. The meeting also reaffirmed the Forum’s plea for the administrative and financial autonomy of the foundations, sin order to avert the risk of political interference. “We want the boards to have the capacity to propose the Foundation’s budget and that this should be respected”, Landi explains.

The representatives of the FAPs are also demanding “respect for the mandates of the members of the board and the directors”, as a reinforcement to the proposal for the institution’s autonomy and guarantee of stability. “It is clear that the foundations are not independent. They are operational and ought to follow the interests of society, interpreted by their respective boards and by government policy”, Landi points out. “Understanding and accepting autonomy and respect for the mandates is a demonstration of culture.”