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New Peruvian president plans sci-tech spending boost

Peru's new president is planning to increase the country's spending on science and technology sevenfold by the year 2016.

Ollanta Humala Tasso, who will take office on 28 July, wants spending on science and technology to exceed 0.7 per cent of GDP by the end of his term.

According to reports by SciDev.Net, Peru has one of the lowest sci-tech budgets in Latin America, and only four of its 115 universities appear in Latin American university rankings.

“S&T will be one of the cores of our proposed model of development,” Humala told SciDev.Net in an email interview. “In the electoral campaign we were the only party that explored in depth this issue which I, personally, consider crucial.”

Nine pages of his government plan are devoted to science and technology. At the core of Humala’s strategy are plans to foster cooperation and links between public research institutes, universities, and small and medium enterprises by means of tax incentives for companies that develop innovations or use their own resources for research.

“A big part of S&T spending will be devoted to the improvement of public universities, so they can also be centres of research,” Humala said.

He also expressed an intention to develop links between universities and the private sector, and create specific opportunities for women.

Another of the new president’s goals is the establishment of a Ministry for Science and Technology, an idea criticised by some Peruvian scientists.

Benjamin Marticorena, former president of the National Council of Science and Technology, SciDev.Net reported on 12 July, that he felt Humala should hold off forming the ministry until science and technology policies were well established and implemented.

Luis Destefano, an associate professor in the genomics unit of Cayetano Heredia University, also expressed concern at the scope of Humala’s plans.

“I don’t think the country can make the great leap in S&T without a major reform in public universities,” he told SciDev.Net. “S&T leads to nothing without a link to innovation,” he added.