CSIR Challenged To Become Financially Independent

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Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei ? Minister, Environment, Science & Technology

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been challenged to wean itself from government subventions within the next three years.

The Minister for Environment, Science and Innovation, Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei, who threw the challenge to the nation?s leading research organisation, observed that the council had the potential to create enough wealth to support itself and fuel the country?s economic growth.

The minister was speaking at a familiarisation tour of the council in Accra Monday.

It was to enable the minister to interact with officials of the council and find out the opportunities, challenges and the way forward to make the council more vibrant to contribute to the country?s progress.

In other parts of the world, research institutions and industry are inextricably linked, with industries sometimes funding research. But that appears not to be the case in Ghana.

Even in situations where the council has collaborated with some institutions, the products of its research are given out for free.

A number of consumer foods on the Ghanaian market are from the fold of the CSIR but it hardly receives any financial rewards.

That, the minister said, should become a thing of the past, adding that the CSIR must be able to sell its output to generate enough funds to support its activities.

?If you look at the work you are doing, it is clear that depending solely on the government will lead to the collapse of the CSIR.  A day will come when you have to sack some of your workers.

?If we pool our resources, we can create wealth to support this country. You are doing great things here that should be converted into money,? he added.

In that regard, he said the ministry was working with the Association of Ghana Industries to create a forum where the CSIR?s research works would be tapped into by industries, while at the same time the council benefited financially.

While acknowledging the constraints facing the CSIR, he urged it to go beyond the problems on its tables and collaborate with the ministry to ensure that all the bureaucratic bottlenecks that affected its work could be removed quickly to enable it to perform its tasks.

He said the ministry would maintain an open-door policy and urged all members of staff of the CSIR to approach him and not resort to strikes or demonstrations to press home their demand for better pay as they awaited their migration onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

Dr Oteng-Adjei directed the CSIR to furnish the ministry with a proposal stating the equipment requirements of the various departments, accompanied by how the equipment would be used to recoup the investment.

The CSIR was established in its present form by National Liberation Council (NLC) Decree 293 of October 10, 1968 and re-established by CSIR Act 1996 (Act 521) on November 26, 1996.

However, it traces its history to the erstwhile National Research Council (NRC) which was established by the government of Ghana in August 1958 to organise and co-ordinate scientific research in Ghana.

Some of the council?s research footprints include the Pozzolana cement, biofuel and biochemical, a number of improved food crops and animals.

Earlier, the Director-General of the CSIR, Dr Abdulai B. Salifu, in an hour-long presentation, had enumerated the numerous achievements of the council but observed that funding constraints were undermining its work.

In a rather interesting contrast, he said, Ghana, during Dr Kwame Nkrumah?s regime, donated 10 million pounds to Korea but today the Koreas had moved economically to a different level, adding that for every 10 cellular phones in Ghana today, one was likely to bear  the renowned Korean brand name ? Samsung.

He complained about the inability of successive governments to meet the budget requirements of the council but at the same time criticised it for using its funds on personal emoluments.

While making a passionate appeal to the ministry to ensure the retooling of the council, Dr Salifu urged the minister to help it get a tax waver on equipment that was being held at the Tema Port because the council could not raise the necessary funds to clear it.

?On one occasion, we had to return two vehicles to a partner agency outside the country and one was immediately assigned to Niger which cleared it in no time,? he added.

Source: Daily Graphic

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