Why We Must not Cut Back R&D Budget

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          The lesson we learn from ‘The Golden Goose’ teaches us how dangerous it is to decide something in a short-sighted perspective. Then, is this lesson still valid nowadays? Well, yes it is. The Korean government’s recent announcement to cut back the R&D Budget is likely to teach the same regretful lesson to us, just like the golden goose did to the farmer. 

          So, what is R&D? It stands for ‘Research and Development’. R&D budget means the expense needed to support scientific or technological research. According to the 1st graph, we can see that the R&D budget has increased continuously since 2013 but it is expected to decrease by 16.6% in 2024, which equates to 5.2 trillion won. The reduction is due to the lack of tax revenues, which was indeed a great problem to the government. However, we must not cut down the R&D budget, anyway.

         One reason is that the reduction will hinder Korea’s development in the long term. Government’s support is extremely important for advanced science to develop. Under this support, new industries start to bloom, allowing the country to gain the upper hand in these fields. One example is “Nuriho” which was launched in 2022. With the aid of 1.9 trillion won over 12 years of development, Nuriho could make a successful launch. In the near future, the technology will be transferred to private enterprises and it may grow to be an important industry that feeds 5 million Koreans. Had it not been for the government’s financial support, Nuriho might not have existed. No investment, no future. That is why the R&D budget must remain safe.

         Another reason is that more than 1000 researchers are likely to lose their jobs.The 2nd graph refers to the responses of 587 researchers of the Korean Society for Molecular Biology about the most concerning problems expected to happen after the reduction. They chose ‘Job Instability’ for the main concern. It will put them into difficult situations to maintain their livelihoods. This brings about a more serious problem: they will leave the field of research forever. Even if the tax revenues rise and the research finally resumes, those who have left the field will never return. Therefore, decreasing the R&D budget is the same as losing high-quality human resources for the future. 

         To sum up, we must keep the R&D expense safe no matter how urgent the financial circumstance is. It is for Korea’s sustainable development and for prospective scientists. We need a long-term view, as for science and technology.

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