There has been much debate on the outcomes of the discussion of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko with the academic elite of the country in both its academic circles and society.
The large meeting, held in the NASB on the 7th of April, was attended by more than 400 people.
The experts headed by the President have considered the issues and prospects of Belarusian science industry in detail.
Ekaterina Zhilyanina, a reporter:
The discussion lasted longer than 4 hours. As many as 400 people participated. There was criticism and even debate.
The President announced the profound discussion on science long ago, so all the participants had time to prepare.
The message is not to mask problems with successful developments, but to define them and find optimal solutions.
Financing and effectiveness have always been a pressing matter.
Leonid Anfimov, chairman of the State Control Committee:
Often, budget spending was irrational.
Some scientific research are not completed, i.e. there is no end product.
Some developments do not even reach the stage of production.
There are also examples of the results that do not meet objectives economically.
This block is uncompetitive, complex, bulky, metal-intensive and more costly.
There are other similar examples showing lack of elaboration of the program at the stage of preliminary specifications.
The scientists have evidence to oppose the watchdog. Scientific research always implies risk. History has seen plenty of examples of making a good profit from risking.
Alexander Shumilin, chairman of the State Committee on Science and Technology:
Scientists have a right to risk. For now our requirements for the results of the research are too strict, which excludes a failure of the expected outcome.
As a result, scientists are not inclined to venture into a breakthrough.
The Belarus President accepts the argumentation of both sides.
It was proposed to create a special fund in order to support the most promising ideas.
Oleg Penyazkov, the NASB’s A.V. Luikov Heat and Mass Transfer Institute:
Such a project can cost about $2-3 million if the development is of high quality and requires qualitative research, engineer and design effort.
There are not so many projects like this, but the sum of $10-15 million might be allocated.
The system of allocation has been formed although some modifications may be needed. However, the President promises that any project worth financing will be allocated to.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko:
If you come up with a stupendous project (or as you have put it export-oriented, repayable), you may be sure we will find money. Not only 10-15 million.
In case it is necessary, we will find even 100 million. The only thing is that you will have to prove it is of vital importance to us and will be repaid.
It is desirable that it be repaid, as it is not so simple in times of world crisis. Although we will find this money! Just lay this project on the table.
The problem that requires urgent attention is salary and remuneration of scientists. Science is the very field for primarily those with big ideas to work. As the future of the country depends on their intellect and achievements to a great extent.
So they have a right to a fair remuneration for their work.
Gennady Palchik, chairman of the Higher Attestation Committee of Belarus:
There are a few scientists of this level in Belarus. If we offer a social package to Doctors of Sciences, we will do this for the state, to my mind.
Moreover, the housing problem of scientists will be solved.
There is no need for a person of particular talent and gift to distract attention from work to prosperity, that of his family, etc.
It means that we overload his mind, which is to serve the interests of science, and expect efficiency from him.
For this reason, we will mull it over and I promise that we will find building lots plot by plot. We will do this free for you, which will also reduce the cost. I will entrust the task to our plants. I have this experience and as a result the accommodation is very cheap.
A square meter, in my opinion, costs less than $600 excluding decoration work. We will find a solution to this problem.
The main approach to promising directions for investigation is to base on their effectiveness.
They say ‘fundamental’ investigations, sort of ‘applied’. But is there any necessity? There is not any. There hardly ever be any.
I will take my stand and will not renounce it (at least until anyone dissuades me from it).
We are not going to ban scientists from researching anything. There will be no ban imposed. It is up to a scientist. He is a creative person, extremely creative. If you have a wish to research, then do it.
However, you should understand another thing, i.e. we will support now, being not so rich, what we need in terms of fundamental and applied investigation.
The second point is that we will support even what we do not need for Belarus, in case it has export potential. We will support what the world needs.
By the way, this is what we do. We will support these schools, these scientists, these programs.
The main solutions to the problems of primary concern are to be found.
They promise to return to the discussion in September after studying all the opinions and proposals.
The value of the problem is too high. GDP’s knowledge content, world scale achievements growth and major contracts for purchasing innovations are guidelines that are to unite all the stakeholders.