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By BENICIO VIERO SCHMIDT*

Comments on recent events

The highlight of these coming days is the installation of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) on Covid-19 in the Federal Senate. The intention that runs through the environment is that the rapporteur – key position of the commission – is Renan Calheiros. The position of senator Renan Calheiros is well known. He prefers not the impeachment of the President of the Republic, but the worsening of the government's wear from the exposure of his actions in relation to the health crisis.

The inauguration will be next Tuesday, April 27th. The immediate targets should be former minister Eduardo Pazuello and another army general, responsible for manufacturing chloroquine. What is expected is a public exposure, a clarification of the wrong positions that the government has adopted regarding the possibilities of implementing a mass vaccination program in Brazil. One of the focuses will certainly be Pfizer's offer in the middle of last year, which did not go ahead due to the government's disregard.

The climate summit, commanded by Joe Biden, started yesterday. President Bolsonaro gave a three-minute presentation that was not attended by either the President or the Vice President (Kamala Harris) of the United States. Everything indicates that the possibility of the Brazilian government to save its face will fail due to the terrible management that it is doing in the environment with cuts in the resources of Ibama and the Chico Mendes Institute. We do not know how Brazil will be able to recover its image, in view of the great wear and tear resulting from indicators of devastation, such as fires and projection of devastated areas. These increased in 2020 compared to 2019. And everything indicates that nothing has changed, as shown by the increase in the deforested area, of about 20%, in March compared to March last year.

The budget issue was resolved after a dispute lasting many weeks, many months, due to the need to adjust the spending ceilings with parliamentary amendments, mandatory spending and also discretionary spending related to the pandemic. It was approved in Congress and sanctioned by the president that 125 billion reais are outside the spending ceiling, subject to bills to adjust discretionary spending cuts. This guarantees the payment of parliamentary amendments in the total amount of 16,5 billion reais. A victory for Congress and yet another defeat for Paulo Guedes.

The political reform, guided by the Centrão parties, continues to run, mainly in the Senate. This reform aims, as far as is known, to discuss in the foreground the creation of the district, in which the elected would be the most voted, regardless of parties and proportional votes. This is a regression, as it weakens political parties.

In the wake of this proposal, which is unlikely to be approved by the National Congress, others have emerged, such as the return of party associations in proportional elections and the return of electoral financing by large companies and banks. Even the barrier clause could be discussed, since it was only implemented in the last election. It is confirmed as a tradition that each election in Brazil has a different set of rules. This time quite regressive. After all, if the district does not pass, other things could follow, such as the weakening of the barrier clause and the return of corporate financing.

Foreign trade, with the boom in commodities, is generating a large surplus. The total international surplus, including all trade items, remittances of royalties, and other dividends, should bring a positive balance of a few billion reais, the first general surplus in 14 years of trade balance. Good news for Brazil.

*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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