Higher R&D budget for DOST sought to foster more innovation

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Sen. Joel Villanueva is calling for an increase in the proposed funding for research and development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to ensure that the country’s efforts on innovation would not be hampered in 2021.

Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee J, presides over the hybrid hearing on the proposed P23.89-billion budget next year of the DOST on Tuesday, Sept. 29

Villanueva underscored the importance of innovation at the time of the pandemic, as he credited the country’s improved ranking in the Global Innovation Index where the Philippines ranked 50th out of 130 economies due to the increased investments of the government in research and development.

“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,” he said at the budget deliberation of DOST on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

“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.”

Panahon na rin po na bigyan natin ng pagpapahalaga sa research, dahil napagiiwanan na po tayo. Sa kabuuang gross domestic product natin, 0.15 percent lang po ng GDP ang kabuuang gastos ng private at public sector sa research, malayo sa 1 percent of GDP na average na research expenditures ng ibang bansa, ayon sa UNESCO,” he added.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on higher, technical and vocational education, was particularly concerned with impact the budget cut on research and development would have on the various research priorities of the DOST, particularly in the government’s Covid-19 response and in the department’s regional development programs

The DOST initially asked to be funded P36.269 billion next year but was only allowed P23.89 billion by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Villanueva also credited the DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) and the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program, which has generated 227,146 direct and indirect jobs.

Napakahalaga po na ipagpatuloy ng DOST ang pagpapatuloy at pagpapalawak pa ng mga programang ito dahil maraming nangangailangan ng hanapbuhay ngayong pandemya,” Villanueva said.

DOST’s SETUP provides technological interventions such as provision of innovation-enabling fund, technology transfer and commercialization assistance, consultancy, technology trainings, and testing and calibration services to empower MSMEs to innovate, move up the technology scale and become more competitive.

On the other hand, CEST targets poor and depressed communities in the country by providing and transferring technology-based livelihood projects for the benefit of the people.

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