São Paulo abandons plan to raid research institutions’ coffers

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A researcher at work at the University of São Paulo, one of four institutions whose financial reserves the state could have seized under a bill that has now been amended

REUTERS/Rahel Patrasso

By Ignacio AmigoOct. 13, 2020 , 2:35 PM

The academic community in Brazil’s São Paulo state is breathing a sigh of relief after the state government has amended a controversial bill that threatened to cripple scientific research. But another dramatic cut is already looming.

The bill, presented by the São Paulo government in August, authorized the state to seize the economic reserves of the three state universities and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), a state agency that funds fellowships and scientific projects. The move was part of a set of measures aimed at balancing São Paulo’s finances, which have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many prominent scientists and scientific organizations had spoken out against the bill, which the Brazilian Academy of Sciences said would “paralyze all scientific activities in the state of São Paulo.” As the country’s wealthiest state, São Paulo accounts for about 40% of Brazil’s scientific output.

Last week, the government gave in to the mounting …

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