^
Lawmaker urges government to invest in R&D
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the ways and means committee of the House of Representatives, made this pitch as he highlighted the importance of R&D in solving the pandemic, climate change and the like.
STAR/File

Lawmaker urges government to invest in R&D

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government needs to allocate a substantial portion of its national budget for research and development (R&D) as it tries to fight off the global pandemic, where science is utilized for purposes of ending the health crisis.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chairman of the ways and means committee of the House of Representatives, made this pitch as he highlighted the importance of R&D in solving the pandemic, climate change and the like.

“Science investments are crucial for addressing present-day issues… Our most important national problems – climate change, food security and the pandemic – demand a scientific response,” he said over the weekend.

The former director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority cited the case of Vietnam, which has been successfully managing its campaign against the coronavirus disease.

“Our tightest regional competitor, Vietnam, knows this. As a share of GDP, they now spend four times what we do on research. As a result, their students now rank fourth in the world for science, according to PISA 2018,” Salceda said, referring to the Program for International Student Assessment – a global organization that measures 15-year-old students’ skills on reading, mathematics and science literacy every three years.

Salceda, an economist by profession, noted that the Philippines is among the “lowest spenders” for research and development and called on the economic managers of President Duterte to “commit the country to greater R&D funding in the future” – the nearest of which is the 2022 budget.

“We were alarmed by data from the World Bank which showed that, out of 90 major countries, the Philippines beats only Algeria and Sudan for R&D spending per capita. In terms of share of GDP, we beat only Algeria, Iran and Indonesia. We are rich in natural resources and in people, but these resources alone do not determine the wealth of nations. Small, resource-scarce nations like Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore and South Korea are among the world’s wealthiest countries. They are also among the highest spenders in R&D,” he pointed out.

Salceda believed that “while people and resources set a country’s initial potential, investing in science moves its production possibilities frontier ever-forward.”

“As more global wealth is generated by knowledge, not resources or sheer labor, R&D is no longer just beneficial. In a hypercompetitive global economy, it is a matter of survival,” he said.

He aims to meet a target one percent of GDP in research and development funding by 2025 as he noted that the “Science for Change Act” bill he authored and which the economic development cluster of the Duterte Cabinet supported will set the tone for more funding for research in the national budget.

“In 2017, we set an initial funding of P21 billion for Science for Change. We estimated that, if we were to double R&D spending every year, it would be a good starting point. Within five years, we can reach the one percent of GDP (gross domestic product) prescribed by the UNESCO as the minimum R&D investment for a country to be competitive,” he pointed out.

Salceda lamented that R&D funding for this year even went down to just P18 billion, which is “still below that starting point.”

“But if we start now, the science for change formula can still help us meet the threshold by 2025,” he said.

To him, “investing in science and technology is a must for national survival.”

INVEST
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with