After having tried to approve a fiscal adjustment, untying the budget of FAPESP (São Paulo State Research Support Foundation), and having submitted a proposal at the end of 2020 to guarantee resources through decrees, the government of São Paulo announced on Thursday (27) an investment of R $ 580 million in the main funding agency for scientific research in the state.
Since 1989, article 271 of the State Constitution determines that FAPESP and the three state universities (USP, Unicamp and Unesp) receive 1% of the tax revenue of the entire state.
However, in 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the São Paulo government tried to approve a fiscal adjustment through two bills, PL 529, which was overthrown, and PL 627, which was approved on 17 December by the Legislative Assembly. According to the PL, the untying of revenues provided for in Constitutional Amendment 93/2016 would lead to a reduction of 1% to 0.7% in tax revenue, representing a cut of R $ 454.7 million for FAPESP.
The government informed the foundation that the funds would be guaranteed by decrees that Doria would sign to reallocate the money during the year, which left FAPESP scientists and officials dissatisfied.
After criticism, decree 65.438, of December 30, 2020, published in the Official Gazette of the State of São Paulo, fully recomposed the budget of FAPESP and the three state universities of São Paulo for 2021.
The announcement of the new contribution was made by Governor João Doria (PSDB) at an event at Palácio dos Bandeirantes, surrounded by many direct and indirect criticisms of President Jair Bolsonaro (without a party), his political rival.
“São Paulo does not work for São Paulo, São Paulo works for Brazil. And the fact is here today, the biggest investment of science in the country is in São Paulo. And if it weren’t for São Paulo, we wouldn’t have invested in science in Brazil, ”he said.
In addition to Doria, the Secretaries of Health, Social Development, Infrastructure and Environment, Agriculture and Supply, the president of FAPESP, Marco Antonio Zago, and Senator Izalci Lucas (PSDB-DF), member of the Science and Technology Commission of the Federal Senate.
Before the event, all guests performed an antigen test to identify whether they were infected with the coronavirus, and were only able to enter in the face of a negative result.
Of the R $ 580 million, R $ 120 million will be allocated to the Science for Development notice, also announced this afternoon. The expected duration is five years and will cover more than ten research areas, such as health, environment and sustainability, energy, agriculture, cities and public safety.
Projects can be done at universities, research institutes or government agencies. In the health area, the expectation is that there will be a return even during the pandemic, so that the results can be applied in the fight against Covid-19.
Before this investment, FAPESP had already invested around R $ 100 million for the creation of hospital respirators and R $ 30 million for clinical vaccine tests.
The governor highlighted the importance of investment during the pandemic and criticized Bolsonaro’s stance in relation to the reduction of funds destined to scientific research.
“Unfortunately, this is a government that despises science. The Bolsonaro government, in addition to despising life, despises science, innovation, technology and investment in research. ”
At the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, an ordinance from MCTI (Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications) and MEC (Ministry of Education) excluded human sciences from research priorities at CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) Technological) until 2023.
A survey carried out by CNPq in January of this year showed that, in 2021, the Bolsonaro government reduced the import quota for equipment and supplies for scientific research from US $ 300 million to US $ 93.29 million, a reduction of 68.9% . The decrease affected the work of Fiocruz (Fundação Oswaldo Cruz) and Instituto Butantan.
In the presence of dozens of researchers, university presidents and educators, the governor thanked the scientists who dedicate themselves to science and bring scientific advances to the country.
“These will be the resilient, the resilient of Brazil, to say no to authoritarianism, no to negationism, no to indifference, no to the lack of compassion, which today unfortunately is what we have in the leadership of Brazil.”
The testimony of Dimas Covas, director of the Butantan Institute, at Covid’s CPI on Thursday was also cited. He said Bolsonaro’s lines resulted in a three-month stoppage of the Coronavac purchase process and that 100 million doses could have been delivered by May this year if negotiations had not been interrupted.
According to Covas, the statements by Bolsonaro and his children critical of China also impacted the production of the immunizer, since the inputs for the production of vaccines in Brazil are imported from there.