​Brazilian sci-tech ministry suffers with recession

The science and technology department has been "the biggest loser" as the government continues to cut public spending, says minister.

As political and economic instability in Brazil continues, the science and technology ministry appears to remain at the bottom of the government's priorities.

"The ministry's budget has gone back to 2001 levels," Jailson de Andrade, policy and research programs secretary at the Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communications Ministry (MCTIC), told delegates at an industry event last week.

Brazil needs to increase public spending in science and technology if it wants to be relevant in that field globally, Andrade added.

Minister Gilberto Kassab, who took over the department and merged it with the communications department as the interim government came into power in May, has since repeated a speech along the lines of "Brazil needs a collective effort" to revert the fall in investments in science and technology.

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Kassab has been often quoted as saying that about the MCTIC plan. Set out in its current strategy, resources for the department will be equal to 2 percent of the country's GDP by 2019.

"In the last few years, science and technology has declined in terms of [government] priorities. Everyone loses at a time when the economy is doing badly, but science was the biggest loser," Minister Kassab said at an event with academics at the Brazilian Science Academy last week.

Currently, Brazil invests the equivalent to 1.66 percent of its GDP in science and technology, which places the country 70th in the World Economic Forum's Global Innovation Index.

The MCTIC has been suffering from massive budget cuts since May 2015 as part of the government's decision to slash billions off public spending.

Another recent WEF report points out that support of the information technology and communications (ICT) agenda is perceived to be weak in Brazil, with businesses perceiving the government as failing to deliver in terms of incorporating digital technologies in their overall strategy as well as in the direct promotion of ICT.