• Senate bill seeks to stop brain drain

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    IN a bid to stop brain drain supposedly being experienced by the country, Sen. Grace Poe has filed a bill that aims to lure back Filipino experts and professionals who had left the Philippines in search of greener pastures to return and share their knowledge and help strengthen the country’s potential growth.

    Senate Bill 1324 or the Balik Scientist Act offers benefits, incentives and privileges to returning Filipino experts who are willing to share their expertise and knowledge to spur scientific and technological advancements in the country.

    “This bill envisions a future in which Filipino scientists contribute to nation-building and inclusive growth through the acceleration of research and development in the country,” Poe said on Thursday.

    The Philippines, in 2013, deployed 1.8 million workers mostly to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East.

    But aside from skilled workers, professionals and science and technology personnel such as meteorologists, forecasters and air-traffic controllers also migrated to other countries because of higher pay and better benefits.

    Poe, citing data from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), noted that t‎he presence of research and development personnel in the Philippines stands at 165 per million Filipinos, way below the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recommendation of 380 per million persons.‎

    Her proposal seeks to institutionalize a “brain gain” program that would offer returning Filipino scientists short-term, medium-term or long-term programs to be administered by the DOST.

    For the short-term program with duration of at least 30 days, benefits include round-trip airfare, reimbursement of excess baggage costs, relocation and tax-exempt daily allowance, participation in grants-in-aid research and development projects and donation of instruments and materials related to the scientific activities.

    Medium-term engagement, which has duration of six to 12 months, shall also entitle experts to exemption from payment of travel tax including their immediate family and exemption from submission of Immigration clearance certificate and payment of multiple-entry fees.

    For the long-term award, which has a duration of 24 to 36 months, benefits include housing provision, reimbursement of expenses for the shipment of personal effects and professional instruments including one motor vehicle, exemption from securing an alien employment permit and budget to put up a laboratory, in addition to standard benefits extended to short- and medium-term programs.

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