Boosting S&T via 47% DOST budget increase

From a shoestring budget of P920 million in 1990 to a staggering P5.29 billion in 2008, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is now making its presence felt.

The 2008 proposed budget was approved without difficulty by the stringent House of Representatives committees when other departments have experienced agonizing cuts. At the helm of the DOST is Secretary Estrella Alabastro, the first woman to handle the science portfolio, an original member of the Arroyo cabinet.

The Science department’s 2007 budget was P3.6 billion, which was increased by 47 percent for next year’s P5.29 billion budget.

According to the DOST budget proposal, there shall be increased budget for its four major thrusts: diffusion of knowledge and technologies, generation of new knowledge and technologies, development of human resources for the scientific and technological (S&T) sector, and provision of quality S&T services.

Executive Order 128 mandates the DOST “to provide central direction, leadership and coordination of scientific and technological efforts, and ensure that the results therefrom are geared and utilized in areas of maximum economic and social benefits for the people.”

The DOST has seven research and development (R&D) institutes, six service institutes, five sectoral planning councils and two collegial bodies. The Philippine Atmospheric and Geosciences and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and the Philippine Science High School System are but three of the six DOST service institutes.

Of the P5.29-billion approved amount, the DOST explained that the 47-percent increase would go to 2 percent increase for personnel services (PS), 53 percent for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and 147 percent for capital outlay, where modern equipment are necessary for the efficient delivery of its services.

Where is RP in S&T ranking?

As reported by the UNESCO, developing countries allocated 1 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) for R&D. But according to a 2003 government data, the Philippines has only spent 0.14 percent of its GDP for R&D—30 percent from government sector with the bigger 70 percent coming from private sector initiative.

The UNESCO also reported that the average for developing countries is 380 R&D personnel for every one million population. Then again, according to the 2003 data there were only 164 R&D personnel for every million Filipino population; that also included scientists, engineers, technicians and auxiliary personnel.

Credible studies say that the Philippines has yet to achieve a high level of technological readiness and innovative capacity that typifies well-developed economies and those entering the developed phase like India.

The 2006-2007 Global Competitiveness Report places the Philippines in the 71st ranking out of 125 countries in terms of technological readiness or ability to adopt technologies from home or abroad to enhance the productivity of its industries.

This is in contrast with the high rankings of the country’s Asian neighbors like Singapore (second), Hong Kong (13th), Korea (18th), Japan (19th), Malaysia (28th) and Thailand (48th).

In the area of innovation or the ability to produce brand-new technologies, the country ranks a dismal 79th. Compared with emerging innovation powerhouses in the Asean like Singapore (ninth), Malaysia (21st), Indonesia (37th) and Thailand (33rd), the Philippines clearly has a lot of catching up to do in terms of innovation.

Where are we going?

According to the DOST, diffusion of knowledge and technologies is one of its four major thrusts. There is the Small Enterprise Upgrading Program (SETUP) that helps enhance the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises through technological interventions. The Techno Gabay Program, on the other hand, includes the Farmer’s Information Technology Service (FITS) Center targeting over 70,000 clients in 2008.

Lastly, the Technology Commercialization Program contains Technology Innovation for Commercialization (TECHNICOM), Establishment of Technology Business Incubation and Support to Inventors.

For generating new knowledge and technologies, the science department hopes to strengthen R&D in the areas of biotechnology, information and communications technology (ICT), environment, alternative energy, health/medicinal products, and other projects.

The conduct of contract researches with the private sector addresses specific needs in technological upgrading, product enhancement and an overall increase in productivity. In 2008, the department hopes to achieve 175 projects in the areas of food processing, nutritional products, ICT, environment, wood processing, nuclear services and metalwork.

Developing human resources is another thrust of the department. It aims to accelerate the production of high-level S&T human resources, especially in R&D. It has programs for MS and PhD scholarships, undergraduate and secondary scholarships. It also has the accelerated human resource development program that has awarded 213 MS and 16 PhD scholarships in science and engineering. It has an allocation of P175M in 2008.

The DOST also promises to provide quality S&T services on testing and calibration, disaster preparedness and mitigation, and information.

In broad strokes, the science department tries to realize the objectives of the National Science and Technology Plan for 2002-2020 (NSTP 2020). It is a long-term indicative plan that sets the direction of S&T development in the country until 2020. It is the S&T community’s response to the national leadership’s call for S&T to be the foundation of future economic development in the country.

It is supportive of the visions and goals stated in the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) which are: macroeconomic stability with equitable growth based on free enterprise, agriculture and fisheries modernization with social equity, comprehensive human development, and good governance. — PSciJourn News Service


6 Responses to “Boosting S&T via 47% DOST budget increase”

  1. 1 Lex Librero February 15, 2011 at 9:25 am

    What are DOST’s figures on the S&T workforce from 1998-2009, particularly those that have selected to seek employment abroad. Let’s have a clearer picture of our S&T human resources.

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