State spends 250 millions euros on science

PORTUGUESE PRIME Minister, José Sócrates, warned that Portugal would end up a third world economy if it didn’t change quickly.

Talking in Porto last week on the importance of raising the country’s qualifications in the scientific and research fields, he quoted a line from Alice in Wonderland: “You have to go very fast to stay in the same place, and to go anywhere at all you have to go twice as quick.”

He said that the 250 million euros that the State intended to spend on science, investigation, development and technology would allow Portugal to breach the gulf that existed between the country and other EU members.

“Investment in science is one of the areas that can bring favourable changes and we have pledged to increase our investment by 60 per cent,” he said. “There is no time to wait; Portugal has already waited long enough and this investment is essential for the country’s development.”

He continued: “Today, there isn’t an area that is more sensitive to change than science, investigation and technology, nor one that is so fundamental to economic development, especially when it comes to attracting investment.

“If the country doesn’t want to miss the train, if it wants to confront globalisation with confidence, it has to improve its levels of scientific and technological qualifications, research and investigation,” he added.

According to Sócrates and most economists, Portugal is in a backward standstill situation with regard to the number of PhDs, scientific investigators and registered patents. “We can’t continue financing university courses with less than 20 students. We have to inform these institutions that the situation cannot carry on as it is.” He warned: “If Portugal doesn’t invest in science, it is condemned to turning into a third or even fourth world economy,” he warned.