Representatives of parties and coalitions running in Sunday's parliamentary election were agreed on Monday that it was necessary to invest more in science, notably in natural and technical sciences, but they would finance a science and higher education reform from different sources.They were taking part in a round table organised by the Young Scientists Network and the Academy for Political Development.

Radovan Fuchs of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) said deep structural reforms of science and higher education were necessary and announced legislative amendments to enhance the system and set up two extra-budgetary funds from which science and innovation development would be financed with HRK 350 million a year.

Fuchs said European Union funds were not enough to develop science without stable financing on the national level, and that serious investment in scientific and educational institutions was unlikely until the economy recovered.

Davor Bernardic of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said the biggest problem was that 80 percent of the outlays for science went for salaries. He said that in order to connect science and the economy, it was necessary to invest more in natural and technical sciences, and strengthen cooperation between scientific institutions in Croatia and with scientists abroad.

Valter Boljuncic of the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) underlined the importance of fiscal decentralisation so that local communities could invest more in science. He pushed for cutting VAT on scientific equipment and for expanding the university network.

Ivica Puljak of the Pametno (Smart) party was critical of frequent amendments to science legislation, while Ivica Buljan of the Sustainable Development of Croatia party (ORaH) said the next government should reintroduce the Bologna principles.

Gordana Rusak of MOST (Bridge) said the state of science now was worse than during the 1991-95 war. She said it was necessary to follow the adopted science strategy, link science and the economy, and that not enough had been invested in science.

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