Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday pushed for the increase in the 2021 budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for research and development (R&D).
Villanueva, who led the Senate finance subcommittee’s hearing on the DOST’s proposed 2021 budget, said senators were supportive of allocating more funds for R&D to boost efforts for innovation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Most of us here in the Senate are supportive of research and development. Now is the best time to innovate, because while it is good news that the Philippines has reached 50th place in the Global Innovation Index 2020, we still need to do more,” said Villanueva, one of the vice chairpersons of the Senate Committee of Finance.
“With strengthened support to the DOST and R&D, not only do we allow innovation to provide solutions relevant to the pandemic and other pressing concerns of the country, we also retain and generate jobs amid the economic recession,” he added.
Villanueva cited the Global Innovation Index which ranked the Philippines 50th out of 130 economies due to the increased investments of the government in research and development.
But he raised concern over the cut on the DOST’s proposed budget, saying it would affect the various research priorities of the agency, particularly in the government’s COVID-19 response and in the department’s regional development programs.
The DOST had initially asked for a P36.269-billion budget for next year, but was only allowed P23.89 billion by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The agency’s proposed budget for its R&D institutes also suffered a P76.2-million budget cut, from the P2.488 billion this year to P2.411 billion proposed budget for 2021.
These include allocations for the Forest Products Research and Development Institute, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, Philippine Textile Research Institute, Metal Industry Research and Development Institute, and its Industrial Technology Development Institute.
Villanueva said the Philippines is lagging behind other countries in terms of funding research, whose total comprise only 0.15 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the one percent average research expenditure of other countries based on a UNESCO study.
Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said at least P1.2 billion is needed to finance and sustain the DOST’s research programs.