The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has welcomed the House Committee on Appropriations’ passage of a substitute bill seeking to address the disparity in research and development (R&D) funding in the country’s regions and the lack of R&D in the private sector.
The House Committee on Appropriations approved on Aug. 4 the substitute bill on the Science for Change Program (S4CP).
S4CP aims to provide scientific solutions to national problems such as health innovations, transportation, nutrition, food security, food safety and disaster response and risk management, the DOST said.
“With approved and implemented S4CP Bill, there will be continuing support from government, industry and academe to STI (science, technology and innovation) for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.
“There will be continuing increase in technology-based & value-adding business investments both foreign and domestic due to a conducive STI supported economic environment; and more self-reliance because of more capable and more confident technology stakeholders.”
In a Viber message, he said the deployment of R&D outputs in the pandemic is a testament to the need to continuously invest in R&D.
“While the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) benchmark for a developing country is a budget of one percent of the GDP Expenditure on R&D (GERD), the S4CP bill is pushing for 2 percent [allocation] of the General Appropriations Act for R&D within the next five years,” he said.
He noted that the R&D budget is currently at 0.47 percent of the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA).
De la Peña said while waiting for the bill, the DOST has funded 38 Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER) in 17 Regions with allotted funding of P1.89 billion for universities and R&D Institutes (RDI) in the region.
The department also deployed 42 R&D Leaders in 16 Regions tasked to share their expertise and promote regional development under S4CP sub-program called RDLead.
He said they also funded 71 collaborative R&D projects under the Collaborative Research and Development to Leverage Philippine Economy (CRADLE) Program between academe and industry across 10 regions with a total grant of P324.5 million.
The DOST chief said they extended P32.6 million worth of financial assistance to three companies in their R&D efforts under the Business Innovation through S&T for Industry (BIST) Program.
The program aims to encourage private companies to invest in R&D, as the government shares the risk by shouldering 70 percent of the cost of the R&D equipment.
“The Economic Development Cluster supports the Science for Change bill and we will abide by DOF and DBM suggestion not to create a Special Fund but instead propose to allocate a larger budget to DOST for its priority programs and projects,” dela Peña said.
“Starting at P10 billion for 2022 and increasing each year in the next five years until it reaches 2 percent of the GAA.”
Once approved and implemented,the S4CP bill will promote inclusive, equitable and sustainable development,and will give rise to more national centers of excellence in R&D which are at par with international counterparts.
Continuing increase in technology based and value adding business investments both foreign and domestic, self-reliant technology stakeholders, and optimal use of R&D budgets allocated to different government departments are likewise expected.