Highlights – XI

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By BENICIO VIERO SCHMIDT*

Commentary on recent events

President Jair M. Bolsonaro has once again postponed the delivery to the National Congress of the Renda Brasil project. That means a lot. First, it attests to the existence of an impasse within the government regarding the amounts to be made available for the execution of the program. Second, it indicates an indecision about the source of the necessary resources. Guedes' proposal falls on the middle classes and, to a certain extent, on the poor themselves, since it is based, among other things, on the adoption of measures that make it impossible to maintain the salary bonus. The middle class would be penalized especially due to the changes in the Income Tax rules. There is an impasse within the government, but much more than that, there is an impasse surrounding the big question: should the public spending ceiling be maintained or not in the coming years?

Last week, a manifesto was launched by 381 “developmentalist” economists, organized by the Associação Brasileira de Desenvolvimento, preaching an easing of the ceiling so that, in particular, subsidy policies for primary social spending can be maintained and eventually expanded, as has been the case during the pandemic. From the Bolsa Família program, for example, which has an average coverage of R$ 190 per family, emergency aid of at least R$ 600 was transferred.

On the other hand, orthodox economists also launched a manifesto with more than 90 signatures – basically bringing together finance people, from Avenida Faria Lima – preaching the maintenance of the ceiling, and more, social disinvestment as a way to keep finances at a healthy level. in Brazil. This means that there is strong resistance from the financial market to the measures envisioned by developmentalists and even by Jair M. Bolsonaro, who said he does not accept that subsidies for the poor are withdrawn from the poorest layers.

If the PEC 95 that maintains the ceiling is not extinct, we will have a conflict in which it may not be possible for the Minister of Economy to remain, since his theses have been denied by the President of the Republic. The consequences of this will be visible in the coming days and weeks. These decisions must be taken by August 31, the date the budget is sent to the National Congress.

Scenes from the documentary circulate on social media Fórum, directed by German director Marcus Vetter, in Davos, Switzerland. They show the isolation to which the president of Brazil was relegated during the event and his laughable attitude towards the former vice president of the Republic of the United States, Al Gore. The documentary exposes Brazil's isolation. Guests from other countries, in this last Forum, defended policies in favor of the environment above all else. Brazil walks in the opposite direction.

On the 26th of August, Wednesday, Brazil overtook the United States in the average lethality of Covid-19. We thus become the country with the highest rate, reaching an average of 56,8 deaths per 100 inhabitants, surpassing in this item the United States, which still maintains, in absolute numbers, the highest number of deaths in this pandemic.

A shocking fact was the defense of child labor made that week, in a public ceremony, by the President of the Republic. Well, this goes against the hard-won legislation of the ECA, the Child and Adolescent Statute, which makes Brazil one of the models for defending young people. According to this legislation, they can only work as apprentices at the age of 16 and, professionally, after the age of 18. Regrettable.

Finally, what was a simple question from a journalist to the president became a meme on the national network: “Why did Fabrício Queiroz deposit 89 thousand reais in the account of the first lady?”

*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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