by Lisaandra Paraguassu
BRASÍLIA (Reuters) – The solution to fulfill President Jair Bolsonaro’s promise and increase Bolsa Família, which will be called Auxílio Brasil, to a minimum of 400 reais came from politics and left Economy Minister Paulo Guedes behind and a ceiling of frail spending.
The proposal created at Planalto Palace by the Minister of the Civil House, Ciro Nogueira, and the so-called “political wing” of the government, did not even pass through the calculations of the economic team. Sources in the economic area heard by Reuters said that not even the numbers used by the rapporteur of the PEC of Precatórios, Deputy Hugo Motta (Republicans-PB), were analyzed by the Ministry of Economy.
“I can’t explain it, it has to do with who invented it,” said one of the sources.
Since the end of last week, Guedes had been pressured to accept proposals with a minimum value of 400 reais for the beneficiaries of the new Bolsa Família, the Auxílio Brasil. The order that came from President Jair Bolsonaro has a very clear horizon in view, the 2022 elections.
Driven by the center, Bolsonaro came to see rising benefits to the poorest as the lifeline of dwindling popularity and a chance to revive his chances in a re-election that was being considered lost.
Within the Planalto, two possibilities emerged: the first one, that of “going around” the spending ceiling, placing as an extra-ceiling an extraordinary credit of 30 billion to pay the amount up to 400 reais as an extraordinary bonus until December 2022.
The market’s reaction, however, to the proposal to breach the spending ceiling without shame, made Ciro Nogueira and the Minister of Citizenship, João Roma –responsible for social programs– to start working on the second proposal, which for order was included on this Thursday in the PEC dos Precatórios.
Nogueira and Roma took this morning, along with Hugo Motta, the proposal to change the period for calculating inflation to readjust the ceiling to the President of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), who accepted the change. The conversation also took place with the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG), with the presence of Paulo Guedes.
Another surprise came at the speed with which the proposal was incorporated into the PEC dos Precatórios by Hugo Motta.
One of the economic team’s sources told Reuters that the change in the inflation calculation period to correct the spending ceiling is “technically defensible”, as the government pays the adjustments to social security benefits and the minimum wage for the full year, from January to December, while the ceiling is readjusted with the value from July of one year to June of another. In years of controlled inflation, the difference is not large, but with inflation soaring this year, the figure may indeed be considerable.
“Technically it would be defensible, but this is not the time. It would have to be better talked about. It looks like opportunism,” he said.
The calculation made by the government’s political group is that the change could release around 40 billion from the spending ceiling in 2022. The value, however, is not corroborated by the economic team, which so far has not been involved in the negotiation.
Added to the new rule for the payment of precatório, already proposed in the PEC, the “slack” could reach more than 80 billion, enough to pay the extra amount to the beneficiaries of the new Bolsa Família, the gas voucher for the poorest families and plus the aid for self-employed truckers that Bolsonaro suddenly announced this Thursday. In addition to yet another increase in the value of parliamentary amendments, always welcome in a Congress that has its eye on the 2022 elections.
(Additional reporting by Marcela Ayres)
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