ECONOMY PUTS ALL R&D&I AID UNDER REVIEW
- 26 April, 2018
- Posted by: CIIC
- Category: ICCI - Innovation Centre
Increases non-refundable funds to 30% and project funding ceiling to 85%.
Create guarantee funds to reduce guarantees giving access to loans
2017 was a terrible year for R&D&I in Spain. Not only was little was spent, but the money available was not exhausted. The budget execution, which measures the total budget spent, did not even reach 30%, according to data from the Cotec Foundation, headed by former Science Minister Cristina Garmendia. In an interview with Cinco Días, the Secretary of State for R&D&I, Carmen Vela, clarifies this percentage, since it does not include the items corresponding to the State Research Agency or the Higher Scientific Research Centre.
The number of temporary researchers is still very high (in some centres it is as high as 90%), while the tax audit is causing delays which have led to the collapse of public research bodies such as the National Institute of Agricultural and Technological Research (INIA).
In order to correct these imbalances, the plan drawn up by Economía has three axes: a review of all R&D aid, especially for companies, to increase the participation of the private sector; a plan to stabilise temporary employment in public bodies for three years; and the abolition of prior authorization from the tax authorities for projects where’the nature of the activities justifies it’.
- 275,000 people demand more investment in science in Congress
- More than 300 INIA workers denounce their “dramatic” situation
- The Government spent only three out of every 10 euros budgeted for R&D in 2017
The last two points depend on the approval of the General Budget for 2018, although Vela points out that the offer of public employees could be approved by royal decree.
As for the low participation of companies in R&D, Economía will review all the aid managed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI). “The non-refundable part of these loans increases from 20% to 30% and loans are already being granted for 85% of the project compared to 75% last year”, he points out. It will also use part of the non-implemented appropriations of the budget to advance the recovery of aid from undertakings receiving Community funds.
The Secretary of State considers that the most powerful instrument to boost private R&D will be the creation of guarantee funds to ensure part of the risk of the loans granted. The first will cover the risks assumed by the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) in the Cervera programme, aimed at technology centres that promote public-private collaboration. With a budget of 80 million euros, according to Vela, it will be used to reduce the guarantees required to qualify for a loan.
Advance aid linked to Community funds for businesses and researchers
Another black spot is the fact that the Tax and Customs Administration has already intervened in the activities of public research bodies. The 2018 budgets provide for the possibility of moving from prior authorisation to permanent financial control‘ where’the nature of the activities justifies it’. Vela considers that the programmes linked to the National R&D Plan comply with it. “They already have a prior economic control and do not need to be supervised by the Treasury.”
The centres have been hit by the paralysis of the public employment offer (the replacement rate fell to 10% from 2011 to 2015) and the high seasonality of those hired (in some organisations it is as high as 90%). The 2018 draft budget includes a plan to stabilize temporary employment. “All places that have been occupied temporarily and uninterruptedly for at least three years before 31 December 2017 will be removed,” stresses Vela. These positions will be filled between 2018 and 2020 and the objective is that at the end of the consolidation process only 8% of people will remain in structural positions.
COSCE CALLS FOR MORE HUMAN RESOURCES
The report of the Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain (Cosce) on the 2018 Budget highlights that despite the increase in funds there are two urgent aspects to be corrected. Among them are the Public Research Bodies, which have suffered a strong budgetary adjustment in recent years (see graph), and the lack of personnel. “The ageing of the workforce, the narrowness of resources and the lack of resources are leading the system to a weakening that will be difficult to recover.