Bolsonaro makes electoral speech and Congress enacts PEC that expands social benefits

Bolsonaro makes electoral speech and Congress enacts PEC that expands social benefits

With the presence of Jair Bolsonaro (PL), the National Congress promulgated this Thursday (14) the PEC of billions, which provides for a package of goodies that will be distributed in the year in which the president seeks re-election.

Bolsonaro, who was on a trip to Maranhão, returned to Brasília to participate in the enactment ceremony. The formal session was initially scheduled for 4:00 pm, but it was delayed by more than two hours to wait for the representative.

At a disadvantage in the voting intention polls, Bolsonaro is betting on granting a series of benefits to the most vulnerable population and also to the categories impacted by the rise in fuel prices.

The proposal tramples on laws that deal with elections and public accounts in order to boost benefits in the midst of the presidential race.

Bolsonaro arrived before Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), and had to wait for about ten minutes in the presidency’s room. Pacheco arrived accompanied by Senator Davi Alcolumbre (União Brasil-AP), who recently approached Bolsonaro again.

The president was applauded by allies as he entered the Senate floor alongside Pacheco and the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL).

Ministers Ciro Nogueira (Casa Civil), Bruno Bianco (Advocacy General of the Union), Célio Faria (Government Secretariat) and Augusto Heleno (Institutional Security Office) accompanied Bolsonaro at the ceremony.

In his speech to Congress, Bolsonaro praised the government’s achievements and looked back on the problems he has faced since taking office.

The representative praised the work of the Legislature and said that “the Chamber and Senate did not lack courage” in adopting measures aimed at mitigating the impact of the economic crisis. The president also cited government actions aimed at women and the Northeast, two sections of the electorate in which he has the highest rejection rates.

He mentioned the trip to Maranhão this week and said that he received “unequaled affection” from the Northeastern population.

The chief executive also said that the reduction in fuel prices and other government measures will help reduce inflation. “I dare say that we may even have deflation. It is Brazil returning to the normality that was characterized in the pre-pandemic period”, he said.

According to the president, the increase in Auxílio Brasil will benefit 18 million families and two-thirds of the amount will go to women. “Even when there is a couple, it goes to the wife. It is our very special look at women in Brazil,” he said.

The president was applauded by supporters when he announced that, until last year, Bolsa Família was equivalent to R$190 and that, now, it will be R$600.

The president often uses official events to make speeches praising his administration and to attack political opponents. The practice has the potential to confront electoral legislation, since the campaign only officially begins on August 16 and the law even restricts the disclosure of official information by public bodies in the three months before the contest.

Pacheco, in his speech, mentioned the speed with which the proposal was approved in the neighboring House. “In the Chamber of Deputies, the processing of proposals [a de biocombustíveis e a dos bilhões] was even faster, having both been jointly approved on July 13, 2022, less than a month after receiving the autographs of the Federal Senate”, said the senator.

The PEC was speeded up by Lira, an ally of Bolsonaro. Instead of following the regimental rite of having the admissibility analyzed by the CCJ (Committee on Constitution and Justice) and only then being forwarded to a special commission for analysis of the merits, the text was appended to that of the PEC for biofuels, which had already passed the initial stage and was on special commission.

Pacheco also highlighted that the PEC has the objective of mitigating the impact of the “nefarious” effects of inflation.

“The amendment that we are now enacting aims to alleviate, for the Brazilian population, the harmful social and economic effects arising from the inflationary process observed, in recent months, in almost all countries of the world”, said the Minas Gerais senator, who attributed this situation mainly to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Lira, in turn, spoke about the impact of the PEC on the expansion of Auxílio Brasil. “We are sure that this set of measures will have a very positive impact on reducing poverty in our country, minimizing its deleterious effects on our people,” she said.

The proposal initially emerged as a reserve of around R$30 billion to compensate states that chose to zero ICMS (Tax on the Circulation of Goods and Services) on fuels.

An articulation involving the government and some of the main leaders of Congress allowed the proposal to be completely disfigured, transforming it into a package of goodness, at a total cost of R$ 41.25 billion.

The PEC provides for an increase from R$ 400 to R$ 600 in the value of Auxílio Brasil — a substitute for the Bolsa Família program — and also seeks to eliminate the queue for the benefit.

It also doubles the value of the gas voucher and creates aid for truck drivers and taxi drivers.

The creation of new programs is prohibited by electoral legislation, but the PEC sought to circumvent this prohibition with the controversial inclusion in the text of the provision for the declaration of a state of emergency.

The Jair Bolsonaro government had been suffering great wear and tear because of the rise in fuel prices. The president then decided to launch a rhetorical war against the command of Petrobras and against the governors – whom he accuses of being responsible for the high prices for not reducing state taxes.

The issue of fuel prices ended up being alleviated with the approval of a bill that established a ceiling of 17% for ICMS levied on fuels, energy, transport and telecommunications. These items are now considered essential.

As a result, some states have already reduced their rates and the price has dropped at the pumps.

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