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Welcome increase in Lanka's R&D budget

323 Vidatha Centres to link scientists to rural Lanka



Minister : Prof.Tissa Vitharana

RESEARCH: The Government hopes to increase its spending on the Research and Development (R and D) up to one percent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On an average Sri Lanka invests only 0.18 per cent, Minister of Science and Technology Prof.Tissa Vitharana said.

He said that compared to other countries in the region Sri Lanka's allocation on R and D is below the required standards. At present Bangladesh, (0.2 per cent), Pakistan (1 per cent), India (1.3 per cent) and East Asian countries (exceeds more than two per cent of GDP) are above Sri Lanka.

"Our roads and houses are getting vehicles and televisions and other appliances from South Korea which invests more than 2.64 per cent of their GDP on R and D, which is the root cause for that country's development," Minister Vitharana said.

In the Budget of 2005, the allocation for R and D was doubled under the Mahinda Chintana and the allocation for 2006 has further increased.

This is a good trend and we are still short of the one per cent of GDP that the country requires, the Minister of Science and Technology said.

'The Ministry is trying to create better working and living conditions for our scientists so that they can do R and D that will generate the appropriate technology the country needs,' Prof. Vitharana said.

For this we must stop the massive brain drain, which results in our best talents going abroad. "About 263 of the 2400 scientists working at NASA in USA are our Sri Lankans.

"Although this is an achievement, I feel we are losing them when we need their talents to develop our country," Minister Vitharana said.

The Ministry of Science and Technology is trying to change the mindset of the scientific community in general so that they will go further than producing scientific papers that would enable the country to develop the technology, he said.

However, the Minister said that technology we develop should be relevant to the diverse human resources in the rural sector in the country.

For this purpose the Government will set up 323 Vidatha Centres in all administrative divisions and these centres will be provided with computers that are linked to the scientific establishments, which will enable the scientist to become aware of rural needs.The Government has allocated Rs 320 million, which is a three-year programme and this year it will establish 200 Vidatha Centres in the country.

According to the Minister the people are encouraged to form voluntary scientific centres, which will enable them to obtain free training in computer at these centres.

Prof. Vitharana said that those who don't know English could access computers and communicate in Sinhala and Tamil as well. These centres extended with the Government's Nanasala programme to bridge the computer gap that existed by permitting poor people without knowledge of English to access through computers, he said.

It is hoped the Vidatha Centres will eventuality be linked to computers in Government offices which are being developed under the e-governance programme and would later bring people closer to fast track economic development.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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