News Picks : Chilean government cancels plan for science ministry
26 March 2014
Nature: On 7 March then-president Sebastián Piñera submitted several proposals to the Chilean Senate, one of which was a plan to establish the country’s first science ministry. After Michelle Bachelet was sworn in as president on 11 March, however, her supporters in the Senate began working to halt Piñera’s proposals. They argued that the new government’s priorities did not leave enough funding to establish a new ministry. Currently, funding for R&D and management of scientific projects is distributed among the ministries of education, economy, and agriculture. Chile’s investment in R&D is relatively low—in 2010, it was $1.15 billion, or 0.44% of the country’s gross domestic product—and accounts for only 2.8% of the R&D funding from all Latin American countries combined. However, the country ranks just fourth behind Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina in number of articles published yearly. Piñera’s plan, which was based on a proposal from a working group organized by the government in 2013, was widely supported by the Chilean scientific community. Some scientists believe that Bachelet is not completely opposed to the idea of a science ministry and hope that the proposal may still gain favor.