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STF decision could strengthen government and reduce transparency, say economists and deputies


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Deputies and experts assessed this Tuesday (9) that the decision of the majority of ministers of the STF (Supreme Federal Court) to suspend parliamentary amendments will give more strength to Jair Bolsonaro’s government and could worsen transparency in political negotiations.

This Tuesday, the STF formed a majority to maintain the decision of Minister Rosa Weber to prohibit the payment of the rapporteur’s amendments to deputies and senators.

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This type of amendment was included in the 2020 Budget by Congress, which now controls almost twice the budget of previous years. For the ministers, there is no transparency in the transfer of these amendments, which, therefore, violate the constitutional principles of “legality, impersonality, morality, publicity and efficiency”.

The amount classified as rapporteur’s amendment is used to privilege congressmen who align themselves with the agenda of the Planalto Palace and government allies in Congress. With that, they receive more amendments, which are the way that deputies and senators have to send money for works and projects in their electoral bases.

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According to Legislative technicians, Congress has the power to reallocate the resources that are currently reserved for amendments to be used for political negotiation. In other words, the budget would not be stopped.

The strategy being discussed in Congress, in view of the majority formed in the STF, is to allocate this money to another classification within the Budget. With that, it could be released.

The vice president of the Chamber, Marcelo Ramos (PL-AM), assessed that, at first, the suspension would not strengthen the government. “Like the RP9 [código de emenda de relator] is suspended, it will remain in a vacuum. Now, if you end up with RP9, then everything goes to RP2 [código de despesa discricionária do governo], and strengthens the government,” he said.

When transferred to the discretionary expense code, the amendment budget enters the same accounting as expenses for the functioning of the public machine.

With this, the value negotiated with parliamentarians will not even be made public.

The executive director of the IFI (Independent Fiscal Institution), Felipe Salto, assesses that the decision could end up giving even less transparency to the amendments negotiations. “Today we don’t know which congressman originated that amendment. How much was released? We don’t know. What could happen is for Congress to transform all this into RP2. It’s going to get even worse.”

For the director of the IFI, Vilma da Conceição Pinto, the end of the classification of the rapporteur’s amendment does not solve the problem. “The ‘take it, give it here’ would not cease to exist”, he assesses.

For former president of the Chamber Rodrigo Maia (without party-RJ), the STF’s decision goes along the right lines. “The decision guarantees respect for the Constitution, and, of course, in a process of interference in parliament that the amendments were generating, it also reestablishes democracy and the role of political parties in the Brazilian Parliament.”

A government leadership in Congress states with reservation that the suspension that will be determined by the Federal Supreme Court questions not only the rapporteur’s amendments, but several other practices related to the formation of the Budget.

He mentions that the decision of Minister Rosa Weber, supported by the majority of ministers, opens a space for questioning other types of amendments, such as commission amendments.

Furthermore, it states that many issues are impossible to be implemented in practice. He points out, as an example, transparency rules. This senator argues that appointing the congressman who requests the amendment violates the principle of personality in the preparation of the budget.

Full publicity, for example, would affect senators more than federal deputies. This is because the members of the Chamber are normally elected representing a regional base. On the other hand, senators get broader support in their states. By identifying them, it can inhibit amendments that they consider justified for fear of discontent in other regions of the state.

Therefore, he believes that it is possible to make improvements, such as identifying the institutions and bodies that request the resources, but that it would be impossible to identify all the parliamentarians involved.

In the neighboring house, the Senate, the opposition celebrated the formation of a majority in the STF to stop the so-called secret budget. Opposition leader Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP) stated that it was a victory and that now it would be up to the government and Congress to adopt measures to provide more transparency and publicity for the matter.

“A victory, above all, for the people! The majority of ministers voted to suspend the transfers of the secret budget. In addition, the government and Congress must adopt transparency and publicity measures. Great day!”, Randolfe wrote on his social networks.

Randolfe, who was vice president of the CPI at Covid, also announced on his social networks that he will start collecting signatures for the installation of the CPI on Secret Budget, which he also called “CPI do Bolsolão”.

The majority leader, Renan Calheiros (MDB-AL), said that the secret budget represented “clientelism and corruption”.

“Democracies do not hold secrets. The budget is public, has no owner and needs to respect equality of representation. Apart from that, there is a repetition of clientelism and corruption,” he stated.


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