Senate approves PEC that boosts social benefits at a cost of BRL 41.25 billion

posted on 01/07/2022 05:58 / updated 01/07/2022 05:59

  (credit: Edilson Rodrigues/Agência Senado)


(credit: Edilson Rodrigues/Agência Senado)

Just over 90 days before the elections, the Senate approved a proposal to amend the Constitution (PEC) 1/2022 that expands social benefits. The text advanced with a large majority: 72 votes against one, in the first round, and 67 x 1, in the second. Now it’s on to the House for consideration.

The proposal, in the interest of the government, increases the value of Auxílio Brasil, from R$ 400 to R$ 600; creates the truck driver voucher, worth R$ 1 thousand; benefits to taxi drivers and financial supplementation for Alimenta Brasil, among others. The measures are valid only until December of this year, on an emergency basis.


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(photo: pacific)

The Electoral Law prohibits the creation or expansion of benefits to individuals in the year in which elections are held, except in a state of emergency or calamity. In order not to be punished by Justice, the national state of emergency was included in the PEC.

The approval of the text means a victory for the government of Jair Bolsonaro, who seeks re-election. The intention is that all aid will be paid from August.

The cost of the package will be R$ 41.25 billion. The PEC rapporteur, Senator Fernando Bezerra Coelho (MDB-PE), informed that the amount will come from extraordinary credits.

All the proposals were originally part of PEC 1 — dubbed, by Minister Paulo Guedes’ economic team, “PEC Kamikaze”. PEC 16, authored by the government leader in the Senate, Carlos Portinho (PL-RJ) was added to it.

Fernando Bezerra highlighted the role of the House in the vote. “The Senate (…) already envisaged this scenario of difficulties that we were going to face. I think the matter received complete understanding. It is evident that divergences exist, and they are natural in the democratic process, but all parties favorably forwarded the proposals that were appreciated and debated”, he said, after the vote.

The only senator to vote “no” to the proposal was José Serra (PSDB-SP). All party benches said “yes”, but with reservations. This is the case of the Podemos bench, represented by Senator Oriovisto Guimarães (Pode-PR), who regretted the non-extension of aid to app drivers. “In Brazil, we have less than 100,000 taxi drivers and more than a million app operators. Politically, it backfired. You will have a million highly disgruntled people, because you created unfair competition for them. to have included everyone, to have treated everyone in the same way in the PEC”, he stressed.

The PSD bench, represented by Senator Alexandre Silveira (MG), said they understood that the best way to do social justice would be through job creation. “We could not fail to note that the four-month inertia of the economic policy led by Minister Paulo Guedes delayed this assistance to Brazilians,” he pointed out.

Parliamentarians criticized what they call the electoral character of the PEC. “We were often with the Minister of Economy, and when we talked about generating employment and income, he came up with the story of the market, that the market defines it. There are millions of unemployed people, more than 30 million hungry”, said senator Zenaide Maia (Pros-RN). “This is a sad reality that makes us, here, approve such a PEC less than 100 days before the election.”


Changes

In the first discussion of the matter, on Wednesday, senators suggested changes to the text, and the vote ended up being postponed so that parliamentarians could analyze the changes.

Among the changes — which were eventually approved — are the expansion of aid to taxi drivers, registered until May 31, 2022, at a cost of BRL 2 billion to the public coffers; and financial supplementation, of R$ 500 million, to Alimenta Brasil, a program for the acquisition of products from family farming.

Regarding the extension of the Auxílio Brasil and Auxílio Gás dos Brasileiros programs, the rapporteur removed from the text the passage that provided for the allocation of 5% of the R$ 26 billion for the operationalization, carried out by Caixa Econômica Federal, and the technological updates necessary for the Implementation. The text also prohibits the use of funds for “any type of institutional advertising”.

Before, there was an indication that “any prohibition or restriction provided for in a rule of any nature” would not be applied. Oppositionists feared that Bolsonaro would use this endorsement to grant even more benefits during the election period, if he continued to trail former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) in the Planalto voting intention polls.

“We also make it clear that the measures authorized by the recognized state of emergency will only be those listed in article 3, without the possibility of new programs based on this same motivation”, said Bezerra, after removing the section that caused controversy from the PEC. “There is no doubt, therefore, that there will be no gap or space for new measures or expansion of spending on these same measures.”

About Abhishek Pratap

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