The government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) should conclude negotiations in the coming weeks to readjust the salaries of federal employees until April 2023. The increase may be up to 9%, but the final amount still depends on a decision on adjusting or not food allowance —measure that benefits servants with lower wages more.
In any scenario, however, the percentage will be below the 35% calculated by the categories as necessary to compensate for the accumulated lag in the management of Jair Bolsonaro (PL), who conditioned more social spending in the pandemic to the containment of expenses with civil service.
In her first interview in office, the Minister of Management and Innovation in Public Services, Esther Dweck, recognizes that the government will hardly be able to restore all this impact. “The servers deserve some readjustment, but it will hardly be to compensate all this loss”, she says to Sheet.
Any combination of measures will have to fit into the budget of R$ 11.2 billion already foreseen in this year’s Budget. For the minister, the discussion will also need to observe the need for new hires, after spending fell to the lowest level in 26 years in the Bolsonaro government.
Dweck also defends an administrative reform that promotes the adequacy of the instruments of selection, progression and evaluation of civil servants, but is adamant about maintaining the stability of the civil servants. She claims that the remuneration ceiling must be respected and that the government will assess whether it is necessary to adopt any additional norms to prevent earnings above the limit.
“The logic is that everyone was [ganhando] inside the ceiling. If someone is not, he has something wrong with the regulation of this law, “he says.
The government reopened the trading desk with servers. Will the careers have a readjustment later this year? Will there be a staggered readjustment for the coming years? Firstly, for 2023 there is already a defined budget, which is BRL 11.2 billion, and this amount will be used. It is what is in the Budget and is maintained.
There are two values there, the R$ 11.2 billion is what can be spent this year. And it can have an annualized value of up to BRL 16 billion — that is, the impact it generates for the following year.
How much does this maximum impact of R$ 16 billion represent an adjustment? It’s around 9%.
Would it be with a linear readjustment for all Executive careers? It would be for all Executive careers. Until the 2024 Budget is delivered, we are thinking of having a broader discussion for the coming years. There is still no clear guideline, whether it will only be for 2024, whether it will be multi-annual. We are more focused on the emergency of 2023. Then you need to define the new rule [fiscal]to define the fiscal space that will exist for this.
Careers at the base of functionalism have had their salary frozen since 2017while State careers had the last readjustment in 2019. Could there be some differentiation to compensate? We are evaluating. It is more possible that we do something more linear in 2023. An important issue that we are evaluating for 2023 is the readjustment of benefits, mainly food, because there is a huge gap between the Executive and the other Powers [o valor do auxílio do Executivo é R$ 458 mensais, enquanto o do Judiciário foi reajustado neste ano para R$ 1.182,74]. This is a value that ends up benefiting low careers more. It still doesn’t have a decision, but maybe it was a way to compensate for lower wages.
How long is it expected to send a bill? Is there any possibility of doing it by temporary measure? There is a possibility, it happened in other years, and we are evaluating it in order to accelerate the impact [para os servidores]. But this is a decision of the Civil House with the President of the Republic. If we have a good relationship with Congress, a bill can also be approved quickly.
Do you have a target date? We wanted to try to close this proposal by the end of February, beginning of March. Let’s see if the offer for the servers will be accepted.
Would the 9% readjustment be the maximum possible this year? It will depend on the month [de aplicação]. If it’s been since March, I don’t think it’s possible. It would have to be a little further forward, to give the 9% [de reajuste] within the BRL 11.2 billion [previstos para 2023]. I’m not entirely sure, I think it would be April, but then again, yeah [preciso] an assessment, if only [contempla servidor] civil or not.
So in February and March it would conclude the agreement and announce. That’s exactly it. And, eventually, define: it will be a bill, it will be a provisional measure to speed up the application. To start taking effect in March or April.
Part of the servers has a very strong demand in percentage terms due to the lack of adjustment in recent years [a defasagem para algumas carreiras é de 35%]. Is it possible to restore all of this or will part be left behind? It is very difficult to replace all liabilities. It is one more of the liabilities left over from the previous government. Servers deserve some readjustment, but it will hardly be to compensate for all this loss. We are looking further ahead and thinking about doing something that is combined with the need for hiring. It’s no use forcing, replacing all the salary, and not being able to hire anyone. Careers are lagging. As of 2017, the balance [de contratações] becomes negative every year. This has compromised many areas, so it’s more important to look at the big picture.
Even in a staggered way, won’t this loss be replaced? Is very difficult. Very difficult. But I think they [servidores] have some awareness. It’s their role to ask, and it’s our role to say the fiscal limits for that.
And the military? They were contemplated with readjustments in the restructuring that took place in 2019. Would they be included in this negotiation? In law, the way the LOA [Lei Orçamentária Anual] has been approved, the value is for [servidor] civil. We are evaluating. [A categoria] There was the restructuring in 2019, which no one had.
In principle, don’t they have the same urgency that civilians do? In principle, no, but we are looking. The negotiating table refers to the civilian, in fact, because the military does not have union representation – which does not mean that they do not have the right to have an assessment of their salary. That’s why we are looking calmly, to make this decision in a republican way.
Is the sizing of new hires being done or does it already exist? It’s being done. It’s not trivial, because you had a digitization process, automation. O [ex-ministro Paulo] Guedes used to say ‘we are not hiring because we are going to do everything digital’. Is not true. But it is also not true that it needs the same quantity as it had almost ten years ago, because a lot has been digitized.
It also has a resource planned for this hiring year, around R$ 1.5 billion. It’s not much, but it allows some very critical areas that have an open tender, reserve registration, to hire. That’s what we’re trying to focus on. And authorize some new ones later this year.
There has been a large reduction in the number of servers in recent years. Need to resume hiring? There are many areas that need hiring. We know that the curve will have to go up a little again, yes, in terms of active servers. It will need positive net contracting. It doesn’t mean that the number will increase a lot, but we have room for recomposition.
Which hires are most urgent right now? Do you have new contests to be authorized? Which? We are very focused on readjustment. There is no way to specify what the contests would be, in which areas.
Since I was here [no governo Dilma Rousseff], I already followed areas that had a lot of people on permanence allowance, at risk of retirement, and the pension reform in 2019 accelerated. Areas that were already at very high risk, with 30% of the payroll could retire. [Como] IBGE and Central Bank, but there are others as well.
During the campaign there was talk of the need for a administrative reform. How will this be handled? We are totally against PEC 32, administrative reform sent by the Bolsonaro government. It is extremely punitive, has a focus on reducing stability in an arbitrary way, an attempt to reduce wages, without any concern for the quality of service.
What should be the focus of administrative reform? The instruments have to be better adapted, whether in terms of selection, progression, or evaluation. It has the stability, and I have a pretty strong opinion about that. For me, stability is state protection, not [só] from the server. I need people capable of making policies, and that the change of government does not interfere with the ability to act in politics.
There is a diagnosis that some categories come with a very high salary and it would be possible to reduce it, in addition to extending the time for career progression. What’s your vision? It depends. Sometimes a high salary is compatible with attracting a certain level of training. You have to be very careful, because public tenders have to select the best people available to work. So this initial sizing has to be very careful not to downgrade too much and lose quality.
That’s why I don’t have an opinion yet. I need a more thorough review. There is a very important discussion of inequalities between careers. I think that, for me, is a stronger initial focus, even.
How will the administrative reform communicate with the fiscal challenges that the Union has? Can it be designed in such a way as to avoid uncontrolled expenses? It has to be fully communicated [com o cenário fiscal], have to be thought together. The goal will be given by the new tax rule. It’s not going to be ‘I think the servers deserve to earn ten times as much’. No way. The limit is given by the existing fiscal space to be able to make these changes.
When the previous government sent the PEC, left out judiciary and legislature —careers with the highest salaries and with trinkets that go beyond the official ceiling. How are they going to deal with this in the reform? It’s too early to talk about it. But we, for example, looked at the issue of five-year periods with concern [PEC em tramitação no Senado que recria o adicional no salário para juízes]. This was a concern for the effect it has on the ceiling. [remuneratório].
We are concerned about the ceiling being respected, looking at where it is not being respected and whether there needs to be some standardization for that. And to avoid excessive inequalities within the public sector. The logic is that everyone was [ganhando] inside the ceiling. If someone is not, there is something wrong with the regulation of this law.
Esther Dweck, 45
Minister of Management and Innovation in Public Services. Professor at the Institute of Economics at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro). She participated in the transition group. She was Federal Budget Secretary at the Ministry of Planning between 2015 and 2016 (Dilma government)
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