BRASILIA — The Bolsonaro government does not have enough votes in the Senate to approve the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) of the Precatório without alterations, reveals a survey carried out by GLOBO. Of the 81 sitting senators sought by the report, at least 34 said they do not support the current text approved by the Chamber of Deputies.
For a proposal for a constitutional amendment to be approved in the Senate, the support of at least 60% of the Senate, that is, 49 of the 81 parliamentarians, is necessary. With 34 senators voting against, the number of senators in favor can reach a maximum of 47.
According to the survey carried out by GLOBO, in addition to the 34 senators against the original text, only 13 are in favor, 18 are undecided and 16 did not want to respond.
The PEC dos Precatório (government debt arising from court decisions) makes room in the 2022 Budget of R$ 91.6 billion. This margin is considered essential by the government to support Auxílio Brasil (the new Bolsa Família) with a monthly payment of R$ 400 until December 2022. The social program is President Jair Bolsonaro’s main showcase for next year’s elections.
Faced with the possibility of rejection of the proposal, the leader of the government in the Senate, Fernando Bezerra (MDB-PE), rapporteur of the PEC, began to make concessions to the text approved by the Chamber to make the process viable, as revealed by O GLOBO.
One of the main points of consensus among senators is to make the R$ 400 benefit granted by Auxílio Brasil permanent, and it does not end at the end of 2022, as provided for in the proposal.
— It is unacceptable that Auxílio Brasil should be temporary and that it should end in 2022. That doesn’t smell good. Whether for a smaller number or for a larger number, this policy must be permanent — says senator Eduardo Braga (AM), leader of the MDB in the Senate, the largest bench in the House.
“It is inadmissible for the Brazil Aid to be temporary and to end in 2022”
Another change in the text discussed by lawmakers against the current format of the PEC involves the possibility of auditing the values of the precatório, which registered a jump in recent years. This account should reach BRL 89.1 billion in 2022. But the PEC creates a limit for the expenditure, causing more than BRL 40 billion not to be paid next year.
— Second, we have to audit these precatories. It is not possible for this precatório account to stay the way it is. We need to have a constitutional command to carry out an audit of these precatories – Braga said.
Audit of court orders
As shown by GLOBO, the alternative studied at the moment to approve the PEC is to propose a commission to inspect the court orders. The president of the Economic Affairs Commission (CAE), Otto Alencar (PSD-BA), affirms that the government itself recognizes the difficulty of approving the PEC in its current form. For him, one of the main obstacles is the open fiscal space in the Chamber.
— As it came from the Chamber, it is very difficult to pass through the Senate, the rapporteur himself (Fernando Bezerra) recognizes this and was willing to make changes. What can’t be left is without voting, because the PEC brings Brazil Aid and also brings the renegotiation of the municipalities’ debt with the INSS. What must be done is to reduce the fiscal space that was created so as not to make such a big hole in the spending ceiling – said the senator.
In addition to limiting the payment of court orders, the PEC changes the spending ceiling, the rule that prevents the Union’s expenditure from growing above inflation. One of Otto’s suggestions, who finds support at the Casa, would be to use the extra amount to boost the benefit, as many consider the R$400 amount still insufficient.
— It would only be possible to increase the value if the government gave up this extra amount of around R$ 20 billion that will be left over and that Bolsonaro wants to use for the readjustment of servers and to keep the budget secret. If he used this amount for Auxílio Brasil, it would be comfortable to vote – said Otto.
The leader of the PSDB at Casa, Izalci Lucas (DF), agrees that the amount of R$ 400 is not enough due to inflation and high prices, although he recognizes that it is difficult to increase the amount.
Other opposition members promise to try to overthrow the PEC in the Senate, regardless of its format. This is the case of PT leader Paulo Rocha (PA), who advocates extending the R$600 emergency aid.
— We are going to make an articulation to overthrow the PEC, because it does not solve the problem that the government is proposing — said Rocha.
“We are going to make an articulation to overthrow the PEC”
Senator Mailza Gomes (PP-AC), who supports the government and will vote in favor of the PEC, considered that fiscal responsibility is a non-negotiable point. Even a government official like Marcos Rogério (DEM-RO), who made an effort to defend Bolsonaro at Covid’s CPI, has not yet positioned himself in favor of the PEC and said he is analyzing the issue.
Behind the scenes, there are also those who have already indicated that they can vote for the approval of the proposal if, in the negotiation, changes are also introduced in the so-called “rapporteur’s amendments” to the secret budget, whose payments are made without transparency.
Although Fernando Bezerra already admits that the proposal will probably undergo changes and will have to go back to the Chamber, the point is seen as the most sensitive in the negotiations.
Some senators are still waiting for an advance in discussions within their parties before taking a stand. The PSD will hold a technical meeting next Tuesday to discuss the matter. The president of the acronym, Gilberto Kassab, advised them not to speak out on the subject yet.