Constitutional amendment will mean research funding will be frozen at current levels for two decades

Fears for the future of Brazilian science have been realised with the passing of a constitutional amendment that would cap spending on, among other things, research. The amendment – proposed by President Michel Temer – limits current and future government’s expenditure in areas like science, health and education for the next two decades in an effort to tackle the country’s economic crisis. Brazil’s House of Deputies approved the measure in October, and the Senate has followed suit.

This is bad news for science in Brazil

Luiz Davidovich, president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences

‘The constitutional amendment is now a done deal,’ says Luiz Davidovich, president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. The result, he says, is that the government’s total primary expenses will be kept constant for 20 years, being corrected only by inflation independent of any increase in Brazil’s gross national product. However, there is the possibility that the amendment will be reviewed after 10 years.

The Brazilian government’s budget for 2017 was approved earlier this month, and science and technological innovation was funded at BRL5.7 billion (£1.1 billion), an increase of about BRL1 billion from the previous year. ‘This is still way below the budget for 2013, which, corrected for inflation, amounted to something between BRL10 and BRL11 billion,’ Davidovich explains. ‘This is bad news for science in Brazil,’ he says. ‘It signals that science and technology is not a priority for government and Congress.’