Brazilian science and technology ministry sees 2016 funding disappear

More than R$1bn in resources were slashed in the latest public sector funding reductions
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

The Brazilian Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MCTI) is suffering a massive budget cut as part of the government's decision to slash more than R$21bn ($5.8bn) off public spending.

The latest spending cuts mean that the MCTI will see a reduction in resources of more than R$1bn ($278,000) for 2016. The new budget of R$3.2bn compares with the R$7.3bn ($2bn) that had been originally intended for the department at the start of last year.

Budget reductions for the Ministry started in May 2015 and so far have affected flagship government programs such as the National Program for Access to Technical Education and Employment (Pronatec), which has focused on low-income young Brazilians, as well as Science without Borders, which grants scholarships to Brazilian students in foreign universities and startup fostering scheme Start-Up Brasil.

Other structural changes have also affected the MCTI over the last 12 months: the department is looking to make 20 percent of its workforce redundant and has already extinguished certain sub-departments such as the IT policy office, which was responsible for the efforts around policies such as Internet governance rules.

In October 2015, little-known politician Celso Pansera was chosen as the fifth Brazilian Science and Technology minister in four years. His party, PMDB, withdrew from president Dilma Rousseff's governing coalition last week and forbade its members to retain any ministerial roles.

However, Pansera - who is also being investigated for corruption - has already been quoted as saying that he has no intention of stepping down.

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