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Investments in S&T reforms needed - Angara

Manila (31 May) -- Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said that we should invest more on Research and Development efforts in order to provide immediate jobs.

"Many of our countrymen are getting laid-off from their jobs, and our export oriented industries like electronics are feeling the pinch. Now, we ask ourselves, is it time to invest our money on R&D? My answer to that is yes because we cannot afford not to invest," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

He added, "Whenever tough times like these come, we can consider it either as a problem or as an opportunity. So in moving forward during these troubled times, this is a good time as any to change our mindset, and view this situation more positively and constructively in order to incubate a local scientific and technology industry, through research and development (R&D) and technology transfer. But key to all this talk about building high tech industries is a robust R&D sector."

In the December 2008 issue of Science magazine, a prestigious publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, it was reported that the Philippines is spending around $81m yearly on R&D. He said that "this may seem like a big figure to some", but in the worldwide context of things it is quite small.

Based on the recommendations of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), countries especially developing countries like the Philippines should spend at least one percent of a country's GDP should be allocated to R&D.

Also, according to the World Economic Forum's 2008-2009 Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines ranked 76th among 131 nations in the field of innovations. This is highly based on a country's R&D initiatives and outputs.

Angara noted that it is in this light that we can take this as an opportunity to move forward is in developing our domestic technology industries and jobs.

High technology industries, in the semiconductor and electronics field are mostly export oriented doing low value added labor. Although the figure from the industry is around $31bn worth of exports annually, much of this is really the value of the equipment and materials that were imported to make these products, and not really the local content.

Further, Angara's initiative, has setup the bicameral Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) to tackle RP's lack of competitiveness in science and technology R&D.

COMSTE is tasked to look at ways to boost R&D spending, keeping in mind that the desired result should be local industry and job creation, as well as the competitiveness of our products and services.

COMSTE panel members also pushed for two significant institution reforms. The first is the full operation of the Renewable Energy Research Institute, established under the Renewable Energy law. The second is the establishment of an R&D institute patterned after Taiwan's successful Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), as an incubator of industrial innovation.

"We need to pour our efforts and resources in a few key areas, work together, with the ultimate end of industry and job creation from our R&D efforts. That is the call of the times, and it will be sheer folly not to heed it," he added. (COMSTE) [top]

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