|China will improve the way it provides financial support to science and technology development, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said on Tuesday.
Lou told the country's top legislature that despite pouring money into the sector, reforms are needed. Basic research relies heavily on financial support from central government rather than local governments or enterprises, and the proportion of research and development expenditure that goes on basic research is too low.
Science and technology funding lacks coordination and relations between the government and the market have not been clearly defined. Lou told the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress that the government needs an innovation system with enterprises as major players, and to promote other forms of financial support, such as angel investors and government procurement of services.
Science and technology evaluation and management should be improved, and, in the meantime, monitoring and supervision should be stepped up.
Fiscal expenditure came under fire in recent days when Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology, criticized bad practices earlier this month.
According to the Chinese Association of Science and Technology, only 40 percent of the research funds are spent on their supposed uses. The bigger parts are wasted on irrelevant matters.
Expenditure in the sector increased from 168.9 billion yuan in 2006 to 560 billion yuan in 2012, average annual growth of almost 25 percent.
In group deliberations of the report Tuesday afternoon, legislators addressed the issue. Chen Changzhi, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the evaluation system could not focus on the quantity of theses published or awards -- Chinese scientists have numerous theses published in reputable academic journals, but innovation is still lacking.
Besides the report from Lou Jiwei, legislators also heard from Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, about implementation of the western development program, the "Go West" strategy; from Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, on China's magisterial system; and from Cao Jianming, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, on fighting embezzlement and bribery.