The Brazilian Scene – III

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By BENICIO VIERO SCHMIDT*

Comments on recent events

With the end of the Lava Jato operation, with the dismantling of the group of prosecutors, after seven years of comings and goings, crimes of corruption are once again following normal procedures. All those who want an end to imprisonment in the second instance are happy. It remains to be seen what other mishaps the fight against corruption in Brazil will suffer. The end of the Curitiba and São Paulo task force coincides with the revelation of suspicious dialogues between the prosecutors and between them and the then judge Sérgio Moro, before and during the course of the process against former President Lula.

After the reopening of Congress, the debate on emergency aid was resumed. The government proposes three installments of two hundred reais. The opposition promises to fight for more installments and higher monthly fees. The so-called Productive Inclusion Bonus (BIP) is being proposed as a government innovation within the calamity clause of the federative pact, which would allow aid to be maintained without scratching the spending ceiling.

On the other hand, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes forces his hand in the attempt to impose the CPMF. If this tax is recreated, there will be repercussions related to payroll exemptions for some economic sectors, which will force Congress to adopt very difficult decisions. Meanwhile, inflation shows its claws in the increase in the price of oil, cooking gas and fuel in general. The inflation curve is ascending, which may lead, perhaps as early as next month, to an increase in the current interest rate, the lowest in many years.

Senator Tarso Jereissati, leader of many initiatives within the PSDB, said in all letters that the party will not be with Bolsonaro in 2022, even citing names that, according to him, would be likely candidates: the governors of Rio Grande do Sul and from São Paulo, and also Luciano Huck. We will see if Tarso Jereissati's position will prevail in the movements of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party.

Among the priorities presented by the Executive Power to the National Congress, shortly after the election of the Board of the Chamber and the Senate, is the exclusion of legality and the immediate formation of the mixed budget commission. This commission was installed on Wednesday, February 10, and will be chaired by deputy Flávia Arruda (PL-DF). It should also be noted that among those elected to the Senate and Federal Chamber, there is no representative from the states of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Santa Catarina. In other words, there is a deficit of representation in the extreme south and the most important state in Brazil remains outside.

In the current situation, there is pressure from several sources, mainly from Centrão, for a ministerial reform. It is good to remember that of the twenty-three ministers, only seven are linked to political parties, three of them affiliated to political parties that do not form the firm base of the government. The objective bases for a ministerial reform are given.

Finally, it should be remembered that the environmental issue remains a quid pro quo for Brazil. The environmental commission established in Europe by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, vetoed Brazil's participation. Belonging to this committee is a condition sine qua non for Brazil's entry into the OECD, the goal of the Paulo Guedes-Jair Bolsonaro government. In addition to this veto, a powerful Scandinavian fund announced that it will exclude from its portfolio Cargill, ADM and Bunge, three holdings that export soybeans and other proteins from Brazil. This is yet another sign that the export of Brazilian soy abroad will depend on Brazil's actions to comply with the parameters established by the OECD. A defeat for the country, indicating, on the other hand, that the treatment of the environmental issue will only change here through external pressure.

*Benicio Viero Schmidt is a retired professor of sociology at UnB. Author, among other books, of The State and urban policy in Brazil (LP&M).

 

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