Khartoum(Sudanow Info.) – The new general budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal gives the impression that scientific research has yet again been received little consideration, proof is the tiny percentage it received compared to so many countries that want to spur development and to put a foot on the road to 21st century. In this article, our reporter, Ishraga Abass, examines the various possibilities:-
Scientific research does not seem to find a better chance in the general budget for 2013 as expected, as its funding is likely to remain at about %0.03 of the Gross National Product (GNP), partly, as economists argue, because of the current austerity policy in place.
“We have been looking forward to see the government funding for scientific research increase to %1 as projected in the state’s general policies and plans, and as approved by the parliament. However, apparently, this is not expected to happen during the fiscal 2013 due to weakness of the government’s financial resources, having lost about %70 of oil revenues, and due to priorities of expenditure on national security”, said Dr. Adil Ahmed Abdulla, Head of the National Research Center.
As of the beginning of October this year, all government institutions started preparing their plans and programs, which they intend to implement in the general budget for 2013, to be approved by the Council of Ministers and then the National Assembly by end of December, ahead of the implementation in early 2013.
The Ministry of Finance and National Economy, however, did not seem to have given the priorities for the scientific research. Nevertheless, the parliament might make adjustments on the budget allotted for the scientific research before approving it.
As it is, in the 2nd quarter of the fiscal 2012, the government approved a financial austerity program following the separation of South Sudan and loss of the oil revenues, affirming that the program would continue for three months.
The austerity program includes cut in government ministries and executive and even sovereignty institutions along with slicing of expenditure on many projects, the scientific research being no exception to this rule.
According to Dr. Abdulla, only two scientific research projects shall be funded, within the 2013 budget, by the center, to which 11 research institutes, working on different scientific domains, are affiliating.
The first project tends to produce 30 tons of Okadin fertilizer, a bio-bacterial fertilizer, at a cost of 1,393 SDGs, enough for cultivating 30.000 tons, while the second project tends to produce and manufacture medicines from medical and aromatic plants which Sudan is rich of. The project is to be implemented within three years, to start as of 2013, at a cost of 2700 SDGs.
According to Dr. Abdulla, these two projects have been particularly selected because they would greatly contribute to the Sudanese economy where both would contribute to the agricultural sector, the most important and most vital sector within the country’s economic activities.
He added that the two projects would also contribute to leveraging the competition of the Sudanese commodities in foreign trade, reducing production cost, expanding cultivated area, providing commodities free of chemical fertilizers and preserving soil and its fertility.
In the meantime, Dr. Ihsan Al-Hady, a PHD holder in plant chemistry and herbal medicine, told Sudanow, “We have huge resources that could resolve some of our problems. What we need is funds for scientific researches”.
She pleaded that the government should fund researches on medicines and conduct studies on plants to discover their therapeutic characteristics to find a lasting solution to the country’s needs in medicinal and treatment areas.
“Presently there are hundreds of scientific researches prepared by the M.A and PHD students at the different universities, but unfortunately these researches are still locked at the drawers”, she noted, adding that these researches could be utilized to get better results if appropriate fund were secured.
Dr, Musalam Al-Amir, a lecturer of economics at the University of Khartoum, on his part, did not expect scientific research to receive boost within the new budget of the three coming fiscals years due to limited government financial resources.
He believes according to estimations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Sudanese economy would start to recover by end of 2013, explaining that the government would not manage to increase the resources allotted for funding the scientific research before the fiscal 2015 unless there was an increase in the production of oil, agriculture and other minerals.
However, as for the importance of the scientific research, the government should not wait for all these years, and must work to find alternatives to fund the scientific researches, namely by seeking the help of regional and international organizations as well as the friendly countries which are active in this domain, he argues.
“Technically, the government could resort to the Sudanese private sector, but in reality the private sector does not have the institutions which could support feasibility researches of new ideas and tools that could change the means of production and upgrade its performance”, he added.
According to available statistics, countries around the globe spend around %2.1 of national income on fields of scientific research, while around 3 to 4 million researchers are working in the scientific research institutions around the world, i.e. with an average of 1-3 researchers in each 1000 of the labor force.
The expenditure of the United States, Japan and the European Union on scientific research has been estimated at around 417 billion US Dollars, which is over three quarters of the whole world’s total expenditure on scientific research.
The United States alone spends over 168 billion dollars annually on scientific research, that is around %32 of what the world spends on same. Japan on its part comes second after the United State with 130 billion dollars, around %24 of the world expenditure on scientific research and then come Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada which spend over 420 billion dollars.
There are 2,265.000 researchers in the seven countries cited, representing more than %66 of the total number of researchers worldwide.
Additionally, the European Union budget for scientific research amounts to 175 billion Euros in fiscals 2002 and 2006, representing %3.9 of the total budget of the European Union in 2001.
South and East Asian countries also avail growing concern to the scientific research, where South Korea increased the rate of government expenditure on scientific research from %0.6 of the GNP in 1980 to %2.89 in 1997, focusing on electronics, while China spends about %1.5 of its national income on scientific research, Qatar on its part, third world country spends whopping 3% on scientific research.