The Spanish Government invested around 2,658 million euros last year in scientific research, development and innovation (R + D + I), almost 42% less than in 2009, according to data from the Ministry of Science. The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, presented on July 9, 2020, after the first wave of the pandemic, a shock plan to promote Spanish science, weighed down by a decade of cuts. Then he proclaimed: “Spain cannot continue to turn its back on science, innovation, and research. We must bet strongly on them ”. The government as a whole, however, invested in this area in 2020 just 3% more than in 2019, although it was 16% more than in 2016, when the budgets for R & D & I hit bottom with the conservative president Mariano Rajoy .
The Ministry of Science, led by Pedro Duque, has taken out his management, despite “the difficulties derived from the extended Budgets”, inherited from the Rajoy team and extended until 2020 due to political instability and the struggle with the separatist parties in Catalonia. The Government as a whole has executed 89.6% of its non-financial budget for R & D & I, a figure that rises to 99.7% in the part of the Ministry of Science, according to official figures from the department.
Duke recalled The last friday that the budget of his department will increase almost 60% in 2021, the first year with its own accounts of the Socialist Government. Its planned direct investment will exceed 3,230 million euros, the largest outlay for civil R & D & I in the history of Spain, according to the ministry. “It is a historical milestone that we will consolidate over the next few years. This increase in funding, together with the reform of the Science Law, puts us on the path of reversing the mistakes of the past, ”said Duque.
The Cotec Foundation, chaired by the former socialist minister Cristina Garmendia, presented this Monday an analysis less triumphalist. Spanish governments have traditionally inflated their real budget for science – direct investment, not financial – by adding money planned for loans that is hardly used afterwards. Cotec highlights the “significant gap” between the resources budgeted for 2020 (7,044 million euros, including this money for loans) and those finally executed: 3,667 million, 52%. The Government had up to 4.1 billion euros for loans in 2020, but only granted about a quarter, according to the ministry figures.
The Cotec Foundation speaks of “a lost decade” for science and innovation in Spain
The Director of Economy of the Cotec Foundation, Aleix pons, recalls that Pedro Sánchez’s shock plan promised a direct investment of almost 400 million euros in 2020. “Everything indicates that it has not been fully fulfilled,” says Pons. Data from the ministry show that in 2020 only 84 million more were executed than in 2019. A spokesman for Pedro Duque’s cabinet argues that “there are measures that are not enforceable in a single exercise, so they do not appear in the accounting execution,” as an 85 million euro ship for the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, including in the crash plan.
Cotec’s analysis is based on budget execution data published by the General Comptroller of the State Administration, the internal control body of the state public sector. Aleix Pons regrets the lack of a breakdown in the public information provided by this body, which includes a mixture of figures from the different ministries with powers in scientific research and innovation. “We cannot know if the Ministry of Defense has executed less military R & D & I spending this year, for example,” explains Pons. “There are 321 million of non-financial budget not executed in 2020. If the Ministry of Science says that it has executed 99.7%, who is not executing its part?”, The economist wonders.
Cotec speaks in its report of “a lost decade” for science and innovation in Spain, after the collapse of investment from 2009. Pons believes that “the great hope” is the Budgets of 2021, “well oriented”, although dependent on European funds approved for recovery from the effects of the pandemic on the continent. “It will be necessary to see if we are able to execute all this additional volume of resources that there is in 2021 and also if we are able to maintain the investment over time. When European funds are withdrawn, will we see the headline that the Ministry of Science cuts spending by 40%? ”Asks Pons.
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