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Government hides BRL 3.5 billion in amendments to avoid wear and tear on the eve of the election


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The Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government decided to impose a more severe blockade than initially signaled on the rapporteur’s amendments, used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the National Congress, to provide relief to ministries with compressed expenses.

The effort needed to contain expenses was BRL 2.6 billion, as announced on September 22 by the Ministry of Economy (which did not detail the portfolios or the amounts in amendments that would be targets of the freeze). But the decision was to block an even greater amount, of R$ 3.5 billion in amendments, to reallocate the difference of almost R$ 1 billion to bodies that faced greater difficulties.

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In the midst of the electoral campaign, the Ministry of Economy has been hiding the official figures for the adjustment in the 2022 Budget. Sheet verified the data with different members of the government and Congress.

According to reports, the government unlocked around BRL 600 million for the economy, which had suffered severe cuts at the beginning of the year, and BRL 250 million for the Ministry of Labor and Welfare – much of the money went to keep agencies of the INSS and the agency’s telephone exchange (135) in operation, in addition to paying the contracts with Dataprev, which processes the payroll of benefits.

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The Ministries of Defense and Science, Technology and Innovation, in addition to the Presidency of the Republic, also received funds on September 30, when the budget programming decree was published.

The blocking of the amendments irritated the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), who had agreed to allocate part of these funds to allied parliamentarians. Another installment would still be negotiated until the end of the year, in the midst of Lira’s attempt to guarantee his reappointment to the command of the House in the vote scheduled for February 2023.

The lock on resources hinders the deputy’s plans, who have practically run out of money to please allies. Of the R$ 16.5 billion foreseen in the rapporteur’s amendments for this year, R$ 8.7 billion have already been committed (first phase of the expenditure, when the commitment to the contracting of goods or services is signed) and another R$ 7, 7 billion are blocked.

Behind the scenes of Congress, it is said that the amount effectively available at the moment is only about R$ 15 million. For this reason, Lira has intensified the pressure on the Ministry of Economy in recent days, but has not yet received a positive signal that it will be attended to.

Government leaders privately report that they are also being asked to obtain a solution to the impasse from the Planalto Palace. There are amendments that were promised and negotiated before the elections and did not advance in the ministries.

Planalto allies expect the government to give in to pressure before the second round and release the funds. The assessment of technicians, however, is that the Budget is quite tight, and a space to unlock amendments is still uncertain.

The topic is considered delicate within the government, since Lira is a close ally of Bolsonaro. In addition, there is the assessment that, in the midst of the intensification of the electoral campaign, any advertisement can generate noise.

On August 31, the Ministry of Economy sent to Congress a proposal for a Budget for 2023 with cuts spread across various social and political actions that benefit women — who make up 53% of the electorate and reject, for the most part, Bolsonaro’s re-election.

The news about the cuts planned for next year had a bad repercussion and were widely used as ammunition by the opposing camp to erode the president’s image. Scissors were the subject of electoral programs on TV and also appeared in presidential debates.

Past experience has made the government more averse to giving wide publicity to the new blockade in this year’s Budget.

The political wing was also frustrated because there was an expectation that the periodic review of the Budget in September would allow for a release of resources, which did not materialize.

Amid pressure from parliamentarians, Bolsonaro even implemented a maneuver to postpone and limit spending in the areas of culture, events and science and technology, opening space in the Budget. Then he edited a decree to anticipate the release of funds. On the eve of September 7, the government unlocked R$3.5 billion in rapporteur amendments for Congress.

About two weeks later, however, the Economy detected a surprise in pension expenses and had to review the measure. The portfolio held R$ 2.6 billion to avoid an overflow in the spending ceiling, a rule that limits the advance of expenses to the variation of inflation.

At a press conference on September 22, economics technicians avoided saying whether the amendments would be the preferred target of the new blockade, but hinted that they would be strong candidates. On that day, of the R$ 3.5 billion released to parliamentarians, only R$ 6 million had been executed.

Parliamentarians and ministries even started a race to commit the funds, but they could not escape the blockade due to the delay in the process of executing the expenses.

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