Highlights – XIII

Image_Stela Grespan


Commentary on recent events

On the discussion agenda, the highlight of the last few days was the sending to the National Congress by the executive branch of a proposal for “Administrative Reform”, in the form of a Bill (PL) and a Constitutional Amendment (EC).

Between 1964 and 1988, Brazil experienced the so-called “complex regime of legal ties” in terms of civil service. The hiring of employees followed the CLT (Consolidation of Labor Laws), complemented with the creation of the Guarantee Fund for Length of Service. The 1988 Constitution unified the multiple legal regimes to which members of the civil service were subject. The 1988 Constitution established a single legal regime, in which every public servant has the right to job security.

The current government's proposal constitutes a return to the 1964-1977 period, the heyday of the dictatorship, now opening up the possibility that stability be restricted to certain groups of civil servants called "State careers", which from the outset indicates a contempt for other careers. The Administrative Reform Project sent to Congress leaves the military, the judiciary and the legislature outside the regulatory spectrum, precisely where the highest incidences of high average wages and very high median wages are found, especially in the judiciary. The Brazilian judiciary is the most expensive in the world, consuming about 1,5% of the GDP, something without equivalent in the world. Even so, they were left out of the reform whose main goal – claims the government – ​​would be to reduce the operational costs of the State.

It is foreseeable the organization of large lobbies and pressure groups of the functionalism in general, including the judiciary, the military and the legislature, in order to protect its stirrups. In any case, a reform that claims the right to change the country in 10 or 20 years has little to do with immediacy, with the demands arising from the current situation of public finances. It should also be noted that, since 2013, public servants have already obeyed the norms that are already included in the administrative reform project, such as 30-day vacations and so on.

We are certainly going to enter a period of wide negotiation and great agitation until we reach the discussion of specific bills that can implement the administrative reform. My prediction is that this will hardly happen under the terms proposed by the Ministry of Economy.

Another important issue is the discussion about the sanction or veto by President Jair M. Bolsonaro of the amnesty for the tax debts of churches with the Federal Revenue Service. The total value of this consolidated debt reaches the stupendously fantastic value of one billion reais. The National Congress, conditioned by the presence of numerous evangelical and religious confessional groups, approved the debt amnesty in two instances. It is up to the president to sanction it or not. The Minister of Economy has been against it. Bolsonaro, as always, sends signals in both directions. It is not yet known whether or not this majestic debt of churches with the Federal Revenue will be sanctioned, referring to the Social Contribution on Net Profits, which is one of the sources of revenue for the social security system.

On the other hand, two opinion leaders in Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula, released documents that make you think. Fernando Henrique published, at the end of last week, an extensive article where he makes a mea culpa on the institution of re-election in the 1990s, still during his first term. Now it's too late, Mr. President, the re-election has been consecrated. Mayors, governors, presidents of the republic, all those who are elected start thinking about re-election from the second day of administration. This manifestation is undoubtedly important, but it constitutes only a historical record that is unlikely to have greater repercussions.

Different was the attitude of Lula who presented a complex text in his 23-minute address to the country. It is, in fact, an alternative government platform. A sharp criticism of the current government and a proposal for major issues and mobilizations for the future.

*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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