YEREVAN, November 2. / ARKA /. Hrant Bagratian, an Armenian MP from the oppositional Armenian National Congress, urged the government today to increase science funding to one percent of the GDP. Speaking at a parliament discussion on next year’s draft budget he said 11.2 billion drams earmarked for the sector for next year make only 0.246% of the projected GDP. He said the funding to science if compared to early 90s has even decreased.
"There are fixed and internationally accepted standards that 11-12% of GDP should be channeled into health care, 6-8% in education, 2-4.5% into science", he said.
Bagratian also expressed dissatisfaction about the amount of funds in the amount of 108.2 billion drams (2.38% of GDP), which the government has earmarked for education.
"We must understand that education is a sector which is key to economic development. This sector shapes the largest added value and the investment in it will pay off already in 2014," he added.
However, deputy finance minister Pavel Safarian disagreed with these arguments. "It is unacceptable to fix allocations to this or that sector in terms of percentage because it deprives the government and the parliament of an opportunity to debate the budget and make decision. Let's talk about the structure of the budget; we are ready to discuss it in any format. But the problem is if you increase spending for one sector, then you will have to cut it for another sector ", he said.
Education and science minister Armen Ashotyan said “the money is never enough, and this applies not only to Armenia.”
"Of course, as a minister, I would like the funding of the sector to increase, but I understand that it should not come at the expense of other areas,” he said, adding that MPs should focus not only on negative, but also positive developments in the field of education and science.
"Why we always talk only about bad things? We need to be more optimistic. Effectiveness of science is not only in funding. We have in our country 140 scientific research institutions. Furthermore, in contrast to developed countries we did not cut the funding of the science in education during the latest crisis,’ he said. -0-