Science trusts, for priority projects

In a working meeting with deputies and senators from Science and Technology Committee Held last Thursday 4, the Director of the National Council for Science and Technology (CONASET), Maria Elena Alvarez-Boela, spoke for the first time about the destination of the funds of 91 out of 109 scientific funds that were amortized in 2020 which together represent an amount of 25 thousand 741 million 755 thousand 587 pesos .

“How were the resources that were in trust funds integrated into the funding of science?” Asked the Senator for the PRI Jorge Carlos Ramirez Marin Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee. The official replied that the money was for the manufacture of ventilators “and the rest of the resources, as they went back to where they should have been: to the resources available from Tesofe (the Union Treasury) for priority projects at the federal government level…, including science and technology, because the Union budget for expenditures Science and technology have only increased in scholarships and in all other aspects that include Connacket’s agenda.”

There are 30 priority projects for the President’s administration Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Among them are Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA), the Maya Train, and the Olmec Refinery, known as Dos Bocas, among others. Despite the construction of universities and the “Internet [email protected]“It is also part of the official list of priority projects, none of which are specifically related to the scientific sector and technological innovation.

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Conacyt chair Maria Elena Alvarez-Boella met remotely with lawmakers to discuss its management. Photo: special

In November 2020, 109 public trust funds were eliminated through a presidential decree published in The Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF), “with a view to combating waste of national assets and resources, and managing resources efficiently, effectively, economically, transparently and honestly,” as the Republican Austerity Guidelines read. On that occasion, it was established that the resources of the funds will be used to combat the Covid-19 epidemic and “to seek to stabilize the federal financial balance and to pay the obligations previously contracted by the financial instruments referred to in this Decree document before its entry into force. However, it is not specifically mentioned Determine where the money will go.

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The extinction of trusts is a close issue for the academic community in Mexico, because during their elimination, students, professors, researchers, and the Mexican community at foreign universities such as Harvard, Oxford and Yale protested their disappearance. Now, the academics react with astonishment when they learn the fate of these funds, as it turns out that the head of the Conacyt does not consider science and education to be one of the priority projects of the country, the doctor in history and the researcher at the center of economics. Research and Teaching, Catherine Andrews.

“This is a very unfortunate and deeply disturbing statement. It indicates that she, as a Director konsett, Its managed area is not considered a priority. It does not view higher education as a primary goal of the government, so much so that it has preferred to redirect resources that have been designated and protected under the Conacyt Seal to other activities outside the higher education environment. Noting that during the AMLO campaign, “it’s very serious for me, education should be a priority,” Andrews said, noting that what was proposed in the Science and Technology Act was committed to spending, a proposal that went unfulfilled and, worse These resources are allocated outside the scientific field.”

On the other hand, the researcher David Romero, From the Center for Genomic Sciences at UNAM and a member of ProCienciaMx, considered it “to be very clear that these resources are not being invested in science” and lamented the situation as it represented “an effective loss of resources with which Mexican science was subsidized and does not appear to be compensated in any way”. of shapes.”

Cinvestav researcher Alma Maldonado doubts whether the ad Maria Elena Alvarez Boella That was “naive or not”, but she is confident it’s a “big scandal” that she believes it is important to highlight. “Science loses money and we are left without resources that were used to carry out research projects (…). It was a decision that was clearly taking resources away from the scientific, technological and innovative development of this country.” The researcher describes the management of trust funds described as “opaque” and “opaque,” ​​and considers that the seriousness of this step will be reversed over the years, as the path that took the scientific community years to build is “revitalized.”

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“Unfortunately, this is just the beginning and we will see the consequences of getting rid of this resource” for a sector that “always hits” due to its low budget, Maldonado said, adding: “It is clear that what interests them most (the government) is the money for their projects.”

In addition to the surprise caused by the destination of this money for science, Brenda Valderrama, PhD, PhD in basic biomedical research from UNAM and member of the ProCienciaMx, He deplored that “Recipients of post-doctoral programmes, such as Cátedras por México, are no longer working in the field of science, but are now reporting meticulously on these presidency projects: Mayan Train, Dos Bocas and Sembrando vida. So not only did the money go from trust funds, Rather, money from other programs has also gone to support the scientific community.”

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Jorge Carlos Ramirez Marín, senator and chair of the Committee on Science and Technology, asked about the fate of the trust funds. Photo: special

‘Falled Kunaset’

Academics have questioned other points of the Kunsett president’s meeting with lawmakers from different parties.

“Dodging questions was the tone of the entire meeting, and for that reason it was virtual, to be able to be stripped of the need for a direct response,” Valderrama said.

Among the questions that Álvarez Buella avoided were those referring to the appointment of José Antonio Romero Telaci, which was denounced as illegal. “This is proof of Alvarez Boella Andrews, who has been removed by the current director from the position of CIDE’s academic secretary, added.

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Another issue that has caused concern is bias in the way the Conacyt president presented the science. “If we can get a reasonable public law on science, technology and innovation, we will be able to get back on track within a few years, and if not, it could take several generations. That is how serious the situation is,” Valderrama said.

Alvarez Buella noted that Konassett’s budget has increased. However, the data show that in 2021 the council had 26 thousand 573 million 104 thousand 028 pesos and this year it amounted to 29 thousand 564 million 150 thousand and 670 pesos. The increase is small, as David Romero can take into account the current inflation of 8%, the highest level reached since 1997.

Academics consulted concluded that this working meeting with lawmakers revealed a “concert collapse” in which uncertainty prevails. “We expect a clear answer and we expect data, not ideology, that’s what we expect,” Romero concluded.

Maria Elena Alvarez Boella
Conacyt مدير Manager
“Resources are back where they should have been: to Tesofe, to priority projects at the federal government level”

Alma Maldonado
Cinevestaff Researcher
“Unfortunately, this is just the beginning and we will see the consequences of getting rid of this resource.”

Catherine Andrews
Doctor of History and Researcher at CIDE
“It is an unfortunate and even troubling statement. It indicates that she, as Director of Conacyt, does not consider her area a priority.”

91 science missions, out of a total of 109, were completed in 2020.

25000 million pesos The total amount of scientific confidence.

30 priority projects Among them are the Maya Train and the Dos Bocas Refinery.

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