The Brazilian scene – XV

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Comments on recent events.

The CPI continues to try to break the bank and tax secrecy of those summoned to testify. The question at the moment is whether Carlos Wizard, the Bolsonarist billionaire, will testify on Thursday. He wants his presentation to be virtual. Faced with a refusal to appear, the commission may ask for arrest or coercive conduction. A problem to be faced by the president, the vice president and the rapporteur of the Covid CPI.

The government is meeting extraordinarily to deal with the course of action to be taken in the face of the water crisis that threatens to generate an “energy blackout” in the coming months – especially in September, October and November, the most ferocious of the drought to come. The government intends to create a national committee to deal with the crisis, as Fernando Henrique Cardoso did in 2001. There is even an attempt to put former Minister Pedro Parente back in charge of the emergency group.

The progress of administrative and tax reforms is also on the government's agenda. The priority is tax reform in the “sliced” model. The administrative reform contains points of difficult approval, such as, for example, the rise of military police officers to police officers in general and of the military to State careers, leaving out essential sectors for the functioning of the country, such as health and education servants. In the project presented by the team of Minister Paulo Guedes, the latter would lose stability in office.

Unemployment has increased social inequality, as shown by studies by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation. Inequality has proven to be resistant and progressive. Meanwhile, there is debate over whether the unemployment situation should be assessed by CAGED, which always announces new hires every month, or by the continuous PNAD, which currently marks fourteen million unemployed and six million discouraged. This methodological discussion has political repercussions, because the government wants to avoid highlighting the situation of unemployment and discouragement.

Political reform continues to be conceived in the Senate and in the House. Three aspects stand out. First, pressure and support for the adoption of the “district” grows. A large group of deputies want the commissions to be abolished and for the issue to be addressed directly on the Senate floor, in time to complete the changes by the end of September. The regulatory deadline does not authorize changes less than one year before the elections. The district greatly weakens political parties, because candidates come to depend more on their notorious reputations than on the general tally of votes for parties, the so-called proportional vote.

A second point is the proposal of the “party federation”. Due to the difficulties created by the barrier clauses, the smaller parties are suggesting the approval of the party federation, a form of association within the scope of proportional elections. What remains undecided is whether this proposal is compatible with the district. There is even a suggestion that half of those elected, federal and state deputies, be by pure district and the other half by proportional election.

It also remains to be seen whether the proposal for a printed vote as confirmation of electronic voting will go ahead, a point that has faced a lot of resistance in the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). There is also an operational problem, as there is little time available to install the new equipment needed for the printed confirmation of the electronic vote.

The provisional privatization measure, or as some prefer to call it, the capitalization of Eletrobrás, must be voted on by June 22, at the risk of losing its validity. That vote is expected to take place later this week on the Senate floor. It passed the House on May 20. Senators are divided and the result cannot be predicted.

This Wednesday's COPOM meeting should raise the interest rate from 3,50 to 4,25 per year. As always, banks and financial capital are in favor of raising the Selic rate, claiming the threat of uncontrolled inflation, while the productive sectors, mainly industrial, are against the increase, which will raise the costs of loans necessary for the economy to move forward.

The Copa America, which started on Sunday, already accounts for 41 cases of Covid, which obviously generates embezzlements that have affected the results of the matches. Yet another regrettable episode sponsored by the CBF and the Brazilian government.

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



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