Snapshot: Lula’s pick for science, tech and innovation minister

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, December 22, 2022
Snapshot: Lula’s pick for science, tech and innovation minister

Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced a new batch of government ministers on Thursday, with 16 new names, including Luciana Santos (pictured) as head of the science, technology and innovation ministry.

Santos was a federal lawmaker between 2010 and 2018 and is currently deputy governor of Pernambuco state, with her tenure set to end this year.

With a degree in electrical engineering from Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE), 57-year old Santos is the national president of Brazil's Communist Party (PCdoB). She was part of the incoming government's science and technology transition group

The PCdoB is a long-time ally of Lula's Workers Party (PT) and part of the coalition that supported the new president, but had not yet been given a minister in Lula's cabinet.

Santos is a former state secretary of science and technology in Pernambuco state. She was also a member of the lower house science and technology committee.

She will take over the science, technology and innovation ministry (MCTI) from civil engineer Paulo Alvim, appointed by outgoing President Bolsonaro to the position in March this year.


Having gone through various different structures in the past few years, the MCTI is one of the ministries that has had the highest rate of ministerial changes. 

Since January 2003, when Lula's first government took officer, it has had 11 different ministers.

The longest-serving of those was physicist and electrical engineer Sérgio Machado Rezende, who remained in the job between July 2005 and December 2010, during Lula's entire second term.

In the first government of Dilma Rousseff, the ministry was headed, among others, by Aloizio Mercadante, who has now been appointed by Lula to head development bank BNDES

The bank is one of the chief financiers of innovation and technology policies. It also executes different credit and funding programs in partnership with Brazil's research and innovation financing entity Finep, linked to the MCTI.


In recent years, the MCTI has faced a series of budget cuts and spending limitations, the last of which was announced three weeks ago. 

According to the Bolsonaro government, it was necessary to freeze the ministry's funding to comply with regulations on the country's spending limits.

MCTI promotes projects through its two main agencies: CNPq (the national council for scientific and technological development) and Finep.

The national fund for scientific and technological development (FNDCT) is the ministry's largest fund and has its resources operated by Finep. But FNDCT has also one of the areas most impacts by the budget cuts in recent years.

In 2021, the fund had a budget of around 6bn-7bn reais, but eventually spent less than 1bn reais of the total due to spending freezes. 

In 2022, the ministry's total budget was 9.5bn reais and for 2023 it has 14.5bn reais, resources that already include extra amounts approved in congress on Wednesday as part of a proposal to create exceptions to the federal spending cap.

Picture source: PCdoB

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