Despite Tax Break, Brazil Scientists Still Drowning in Red Tape

Researchers in Brazil will no longer be hit with big import duties on research equipment, following changes made to legislation last week. Previously, taxes were levied on imports regardless of whether they were bought or donated.

The new decision extends the scope of a 1990 law that exempted from import taxes any non-profit organisations registered with Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) that were undertaking or funding research or teaching. Individuals are now also covered by the law, as long as they register with CNPq.


Stevens Rehen, a Brazilian researcher associate at the Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California, United States, says the change in legislation will benefit Brazilian scientists.


But, he adds, high taxes are not the only difficulty they face when importing equipment. Bureaucracy is also a serious problem.


“I have to weigh every item I want to send to Brazil and get a consular invoice for each,” says Rehen.


In 2003, while at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rehen received donations of research equipment, including microscopes, computers and slide scanners, worth more than US$ 200,000.


Once the material arrived it was held by customs officials for six months, and the university was charged US$ 10,000.


The problem is not new. Rehen recalls that when the university ordered a machine for the laboratory he was working in as an undergraduate, it arrived more than six years after he finished his doctorate.


And, according to Rehen, when the material finally arrives, it is often outdated or broken. He says disagreements between different government agencies encourage the delays.


Brazil’s Internal Revenue Service, for instance, recently blocked some imports, stating that CNPq was in debt, he says. CNPq denied the statement.


In June, the government responded to these problems by launching an ‘easy import’ programme. But Rehen says that the situation still needs to improve.


“Different governmental sectors should have better communication between them,” says Rehen.


“New customs officials, with knowledge in biological areas, should be employed.”


He adds that researchers have a part to play too: “They need a better understanding of how the law works.”


Science and Development Network
www.scidev.net

Tags:

Ads

You May Also Like

Brazil Industry Slows Down and Businessmen Ask for Less Knee-Jerk Reaction

In Brazil, industrial activity finally slowed down in June. On the National Industrial Confederation ...

The Cicadas’ Island

The Cicadas’ Island belonged to the cicadas. This undesirable legion that plagued the island ...

Bio Jewel, a Brazilian Product Made for Export

Countries in Europe, like Italy, France, Portugal and Spain are the main buyers of ...

Brazil Outdoes Argentina in Soy and Cattle

The 70 million tons of the 2008/09 Argentine harvest would represent 2.9% of the ...

Brazil Ready to Retaliate If US Doesn’t Stop Cotton Subsidies

The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, says he considers noncompliance by the US ...

Brazil’s Word to the US: Don’t Even Think About Socializing Your Losses

Reacting to another day of sharp decline of close to 5% in the Brazilian ...

Brazil: Farmers and Indians Dispute Land

The visit to the disputed area was of fundamental importance so that it became ...

Brazil Concerned with Venezuela’s Restlessness But Not Too Much

Brazilian Foreign Minister, Celso Amorim, speaking in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum, ...

US$ 24,000: The Price to Kill an American Nun in Brazil

Amair Feijoli da Cunha, aka "Tato," a landowner in the Anapu region of the ...