Knesset Science Committee head demands higher budgets for R&D

“We are losing the power of engineering in this country," say Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri.

Yaakov Peri 370 (photo credit: Knesset)
Yaakov Peri 370
(photo credit: Knesset)
Knesset Science Committee chairman MK Moshe Gafni said Monday that if the Science, Technology and Space Ministry’s budget is not increased, he will see it as a personal failure.
Gafni was speaking at a session attended by Minister Yaakov Peri, who detailed his ministry’s operations.
Peri stressed the major economic benefits of investing in scientific research and development.
The ministry has a very small staff, including only one employee in the field of community involvement.
The budget, he added, is relatively very small, even though the financial gains of scientific cooperation and investment in infrastructure is high.
“We are losing the power of engineering in this country” because of the shortage of professionals, the science minister continued, saying that he intends to open two research institutes that will link basic science and industry.
Science, Technology and Space Ministry director-general Bina Bar-On said that its budget is not final for much of the year, making it difficult to plan over the long term.
MK Erel Margalit (Labor) stressed the need to invest in practical multidisciplinary research in the periphery.
“Until now, we have invested mostly in military research; the time has come to do so in civilian fields as well.”
Gafni, of United Torah Judaism, said the Treasury acts like a “cheapskate” when it comes to investing in long-term projects instead of urgent needs.
“If the ministry’s budget remains the same by the time I leave my post, I will see it as a personal failure. Next week we will finalize the bill for natural gas royalties, and I intend to fight for investing a lot of it for research and development. The status quo cannot continue.”
The haredi MK noted the major damage resulting from the recent snow storm and commented that “it’s amazing that such a developed country did not succeeded in coping with it. Residents showed dedication and devotion, but the state must be prepared, as we are liable to find ourselves in much more difficult situations.”