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LatinNews Regional Monitor: Brazil & Southern Cone - 25 April 2019

BRAZIL: Bolsonaro stresses necessity of pension reform

On 24 April, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro thanked members of the federal chamber of deputies’ constitution and justice committee (CCJ) for approving the constitutionality of the pension reform proposal and highlighted the importance of a swift approval of the reform.

Analysis:

With the pension reform having cleared the first hurdle in the CCJ on 23 April, a development which has been framed as a win for both the government and the chamber of deputies, its defenders are keen to keep the momentum going and push it through the next stages as swiftly as possible.

  • In a radio and televised address yesterday, Bolsonaro singled out Democratas (Dem) deputy Rodrigo Maia, the president of the chamber of deputies, for praise in working to get the pension reform through the CCJ. “The proposal now goes to the special committee…. The government continues to count on the patriotic spirit of congress members, for the approval of the pension reform”, Bolsonaro said.
  • Maia, who has had run-ins with the government over its efforts (or lack thereof) to build support in congress, emphasised that the CCJ’s approval of the reform was a victory for the legislature and a reflection of the positive dialogue with the executive. “The government’s participation was fundamental, the participation of minister [chief-of-staff] Onyx [Lorenzoni] was decisive, as was the participation of each leader of parties which voted in favour, with the understanding that this is a fundamental matter”, Maia said.
  • Both Bolsonaro and Maia stressed the importance of the pension reform in helping reduce unemployment, stimulate economic growth, and tackle inequality in the country. Opponents of the government’s proposed reform argue that it will hurt the poor the most.
  • As part of its new strategy to guarantee support for the reform in congress, the government has reportedly said that it will allocate more budgetary resources to deputies who vote in favour of the pension reform (all members of congress have a say in the allocation of federal budget resources to the state that they represent, but the amount of resources and the timing of their allocation have in the past been used by the executive to ensure congressional support). Maia has assured that implementing the budget is a normal practice, after this report raised questions as to Bolsonaro’s embracing of the ‘old politics’ he has often criticised.

Looking Ahead: Maia has confirmed that the special parliamentary committee that will analyse the pension reform will be set up today (25 April), made up of 49 deputies representing all the party benches, although its agenda is not expected to be outlined until 6 May (after the May Day public holiday).