Scientists warn about the need to value investments in science, technology and innovation to resume economic growth.
The board and committee of the Brazilian Research Materials Society (SBPMat) hereby urges the Brazilian Congress to maintain, in the 2017 budget, the investments in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) at the levels of recent years, before the drastic cuts which took place in 2015 and 2016. We are aware of the joint effort of society to balance the public accounts, but it is unacceptable that the CTI cuts are far heftier than the drop in tax collection and the decline in domestic gross product.
Equally worrying are the cuts in higher education and in the National Post-Graduate System, evidenced by the interruption or reduction of CAPES programs. These are programs that ensure the continuous process of qualified training, leveraging the critical mass of human capital so that the scientific and technological development achieved can effectively influence industrial innovation, increase the added value of national production, and ensure the social and economic well-being of future generations.
In a country like Brazil, which has not yet reached its scientific and technological maturity to be among the developed nations, the contribution of CTI is sometimes overlooked. The extensive production gains in areas such as agriculture and livestock, extraction and mineral processing, which guarantee balancing our trade surpluses, often go unnoticed. Also unnoticed is the excellence of medicine and digital technology, which directly benefits the daily life of society.
Our specific area, research and new materials solutions, is essential for the future of Brazil as a sovereign nation and less susceptible to the interest of other countries. We are the largest producer of quartz and niobium in the world and we are among the largest in rare earths and other strategic minerals of immense commercial value. Our biodiversity offers a countless number of new organic materials that can be applied in health and in industry segments such as energy and electronics.
We know that the consequences of CTI cuts will be devastating. Besides holding back the continuous advances of recent decades, which threaten to scrap laboratories and squander the value already invested, the cuts realized render infeasible the national technology and the formation of human resources, which is vital to promote sustainable development.
Those who believe that cuts in CTI and in higher education have little impact on the lives of ordinary citizens are mistaken. In the short term, these cuts initially have a more apparent effect on the academic communities in the large centers in Brazil. However, the most affected will be the lowest socioeconomic strata in the medium and long term. These strata have no access to imported material, medical treatment and education abroad, which is only available to the privileged class. The underprivileged are the ones who will suffer if Brazil continues with a tenuous and not uneven government policy, which can cripple the structure of science, technology and innovation, arduously built over recent decades.