Meirelles reinforces rapprochement with Lula and counters Guedes’ attack: ‘desperation’


Discussions about who can compose the economic team and occupy the position of minister of the area in case of victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) this Sunday (30) gained momentum in the final stretch of the campaign. Lula remains silent and doesn’t even want to touch on the topic before the result. The betting exchange, however, gained new life after the last speeches and appearances of Henrique Meirelles.

Within the PT, the strongest names to occupy the folder are three.

The first is federal deputy Alexandre Padilha (PT-SP), who is also quoted for other roles, such as political negotiator with the Presidency or even Minister of Health.

The second is the elected senator Wellington Dias (PT-PI), who shows interest in the economy, but could also go to the Ministry of Planning, Development and Management, which tends to be reconstituted in an eventual Lula government.

The third is Fernando Haddad, who is in a fierce dispute for the government of the state of São Paulo and whose destiny is still uncertain.

However, it draws the attention of the PT themselves that Meirelles scored a race on the outside. Former president of the Central Bank in other Lula administrations, he realigned his speech.

In mid-September, when he opened the vote for PT, Meirelles defended the preservation of the spending cap rule, which was developed precisely during his term as Minister of Finance of President Michel Temer. At the time, he said that there would be a gap of R$60 billion in the 2023 Budget.

In recent days, however, he has come out in defense of PT’s views. He publicly assumed the projection of a R$ 400 billion hole in the 2023 Budget and went on to defend that, therefore, a suspension of the spending ceiling at the beginning of the next government would be prudent.

In other words, a sort of tidying-up brake, as an alternative to guarantee, among other measures, the maintenance of an Auxílio Brasil of R$ 600, Lula’s campaign promise that Meirelles also claims is important.

“We would have an exceptionality, a flexibility only in 2023, to make room in the Budget, which is being drained by all electoral benefits”, said Meirelles.. On the list of problems, he says, are the effects of the Kamikaze PEC and the secret budget, with its rapporteur amendments, measures by the current government that compromise fiscal health.

Meirelles argues that, in the meantime, it would be essential to vote on tax and administrative reforms, to make room in the Budget.

The two agendas are also important for the PT to be able to fulfill part of its campaign promises. The expansion of the Individual Income Tax exemption range, from the current BRL 1,903.98 to BRL 5,000, announced by Lula, depends on a reorganization of taxes on income and companies, including instituting a charge on the distribution of profits and dividends.

This Wednesday (26) Minister Paulo Guedes (Economy) publicly responded to criticism against his administration having pierced the ceiling, slashing at Meirelles.

“We drilled holes in the roof because it’s a very poorly constructed roof,” he said. “It is so poorly constructed that the economist is not an economist, the minister who is saying that it will be Lula, Meirelles, is not even an economist,” he said, amid applause during an event at Fiemg (Federation of Minas Gerais Industries) General).

wanted by Sheet to evaluate the comment, Meirelles found it funny. “Guedes said several things, among others, that Lula was going to end the FGTS and Simples, it’s all a sign of despair,” he said, denying that he had any discussion about occupying any ministry in an eventual third Lula term.

The general analysis is that the spending cap is out of date, whoever the new president is. Lula speaks openly about repealing the ceiling. On Bolsonaro’s side, Guedes has already announced what he calls the improvement of the rule, and there are technicians in the government preparing a new fiscal framework.

However, Lula’s campaign has been asked to clarify what he will put in place of the ceiling. Those who see the rise of Meirelles in recent days argue that it would be an advantage for Lula if he himself, who is one of the fathers of the ceiling, asked for a license to increase spending in the first year of government and a time to review the fiscal rule.

In addition to his experience in the ministry, Meirelles has Lula’s trust, an important prerequisite for anyone who is going to occupy the position, and the sympathy of the market. Only another name has a similar position, Luiz Carlos Trabuco, chairman of the Board of Directors of Banco Bradesco. However, he resisted invitations on other occasions.

Liberal economists who declared their support for Lula, such as Arminio Fraga, despite being recognized as highly qualified professionals, would face strong political resistance to be ministers of the economy, not only in the PT, but within the coalition that supports the candidate. The same goes for Persio Arida, even though he voted for Lula and enjoys the trust and appreciation of Geraldo Alckmin, the deputy on the PT ticket. Arida was coordinator of Alckmin’s economic program when he ran for president in 2018.


In recent days, potential candidates for other positions have also been evaluated. Economists like Felipe Salto and Bernard Appy emerge.

A specialist in public accounts, Salto helped found and led the IFI (Independent Fiscal Institution), linked to the Senate. He is currently Secretary of Finance and Planning for the State of São Paulo. The name for the National Treasury is being considered. In the first round, Salto opened the vote for the Lula-Geraldo Alckmin ticket.

Appy, a tax expert, was head of the Secretariat for Economic Policy and the Extraordinary Secretariat for Economic-Fiscal Reforms, both linked to the Ministry of Finance, during the Lula administrations. He is currently director of CCiF (Centro de Cidadania Fiscal). Their going to the government to help unlock the tax reform is evaluated.


Internally, many people in the PT would like the Ministry of Economy to go to Fernando Haddad (PT), who disputes the government of the state of São Paulo with Tarcísio de Freitas (Republicans). Research shows that the outcome of the lawsuit is still unknown.

His supporters say he is prepared for the post. Haddad is a lawyer, with a master’s degree in economics. He was an analyst at the former Unibanco and a consultant at Fipe (Fundação de Pesquisas Econômicas). Before being Minister of Education in PT governments, he was part of the Ministry of Planning team under Guido Mantega (2003–2004) and participated in the drafting of the bill that instituted the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) in Brazil.

However, within some segments of the party itself, there is a perception that Haddad would not be well received by the financial market and some more conservative businessmen, which could harm the dialogue with this segment. All that a new Lula government does not need, they estimate, is the unwillingness of economic agents.

In the first round, Freitas ended up with 42.3% of valid votes, well ahead of Haddad, who had 35.7%, but PT shows progress. Ipec survey released this Tuesday (25) showed a technical tie. Freitas has 52% and Haddad 48% of the valid votes.

In the event of PT’s defeat in São Paulo, there are still those who are considering a possible double between Meirelles and Haddad, with Meirelles heading the Economy and Haddad in the post of Minister of Planning.

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