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French minister hints at budget boost

作者:国旒炖    发布时间:2019-03-02 07:20:03    

By TARA PATEL in PARIS Despite a severe economic downturn and tight budgetary constraints, the French government says it plans to increase its spending on research next year. However, it is not yet clear whether the increase will outstrip inflation. Meanwhile, the government is planning to exert greater control over how its money is spent. France’s budget for 1994, which will be made public next week, will see an overall rise in government spending of 1.1 per cent. But Francois Fillon, the minister for higher education and research, said last week that science will receive an increase ‘substantially higher’ than this. The rise, he said, shows that the French government views research as a priority. But it remains to be seen whether Fillon is promising an increase in real terms. To achieve this, science spending will have to increase by more than 2.2 per cent – the present annual inflation rate. While Fillon refused to disclose details of the budget package, he said emphasis would be placed on medical research in four areas: AIDS, genetics, pharmaceuticals and clinical science. He said programmes in aeronautics and the environment would also be given priority, along with support for ANVAR, the French organisation that specialises in transferring new technology to industry. The minister also spoke of an urgent need for a new space policy in order to minimise the effects of the ‘demobilisation’ of the industry now that Europe’s Hermes spaceplane has been shelved. European Community countries, he said, are ‘looking to France for guidance’. Fillon has begun a sweeping review of French science – the first for 12 years – which is expected to finish next spring. Last week he said that the exercise would lead to the government taking a greater role in defining research priorities. Research institutes, he said, have been given too much freedom in the past. Control will be exerted in part through new government contracts with research organisations that will outline projects and set budgets for them. Organisations under contract will also be monitored at regular intervals. Fillon said one such contract will be drawn up by the end of next year, probably with the Centre for Nuclear Studies (CEA), south of Paris. The reforms could also lead to dramatic changes in the organisation of medical and biological research, which is carried out by a plethora of bodies, such as the national research organisation CNRS, the national medical research institute INSERM, universities and medical foundations. In future, said Fillon,

 

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