Lula undergoes fire test in face of congressional offensive against MPs

Lula undergoes fire test in face of congressional offensive against MPs

The government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) had the help of the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), to approve, this Tuesday (23), the new fiscal rule that will replace the government spending. The text still needs to pass through the Senate to enter into force, but the result is already considered a victory for Lula’s economic team, especially for his finance minister, Fernando Haddad (PT). However, the government will face, this week, another fire test in Congress: the vote on the Provisional Measures (MPs) that are about to expire.

Lira managed to mobilize deputies from opposition parties to guarantee the result of 372 votes in favor of the proposed new fiscal framework. Together, Republicans and PP, who last year supported the candidacy of former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), delivered 73 votes for approval of the proposal. Even the PL, which freed its deputies to vote as they wished, secured 30 votes in favor of the substitute presented by the project’s rapporteur, deputy Cláudio Cajado (PP-BA). The only parties that voted against the framework were Novo, Psol and Rede.

The main change in the new rule in relation to the current spending ceiling, from a political point of view, is that the President of the Republic will not be liable for a crime of responsibility if the government spends more than what is foreseen in the Budget. Some administrative punishments were established in the substitute, but the president will be able to send a letter to Congress to explain the reason, without running the risk of losing his mandate or being ineligible for it.

But despite this victory with the help of Lira, the government will face another fire test this week in Congress, in the face of the articulation of parliamentarians against several Provisional Measures (MPs) edited by the Executive. The governing base needs to negotiate so that Congress does not impose new defeats on at least eight MPs who win on June 1st.

Government must give in to agro and Centrão in the PM of government restructuring

The main clash occurs over the MP that deals with the restructuring of the Esplanada dos Ministérios and that enabled the creation of several portfolios for the government. The rapporteur of the matter, deputy Isnaldo Bulhões (MDB-AL) promoted a series of changes in the text, which has already provoked criticism from members of the Planalto.

Among the changes, Bulhões intends to transfer the Financial Activities Control Council (Coaf) from the Ministry of Finance to the Central Bank, just as it was in the management of former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL). Despite this, the emedebista accepted the Planalto’s request and maintained the extinction of the National Health Foundation (Funasa).

This point, however, is the subject of clashes by Centrão deputies who defend the recreation of the body. According to the report, the Executive Power will be able to extinguish Funasa and part of the attributions will pass to the Ministries of Cities, controlled by the MDB, and by the Ministry of Health.

“I am convinced that public policies will be much more efficient in the new model. Funasa has been costing more than its budget for years”, defended the rapporteur.

Bulhões’s report should have been voted on this Tuesday (23) by the joint commission that analyzes the MP. However, congressmen who defend the recreation of Funasa managed to postpone this vote by at least 24 hours.

“It’s the small municipalities that are going to be jettisoned. That’s my fight for Funasa. It’s unconstitutional, an autarchy [como a Funasa] can only be extinguished by a specific law” defended deputy Danilo Forte (União-CE).

In addition to the special commission, the text still needs to go through the plenary of the House and Senate by June 1st. Government supporters fear that, if the report is not voted on this week, the MP will lose its validity in the face of the clash.

Rapporteur empties ministries of the environmental agenda and nods to agribusiness

In addition to the change in Coaf, the rapporteur for the MP dealing with the restructuring of the Esplanada promoted a series of changes in the Ministries of the Environment and Indigenous Peoples. In the case of the portfolio commanded by Marina Silva, she lost the assignment of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR), which went to the Ministry of Management, and also the management of the National Water Agency (ANA), which went to the Ministry of Development Regional.

As for the Indigenous Peoples portfolio, commanded by Sônia Guajajara, the rapporteur transferred the attribution on the demarcation of lands to the Ministry of Justice. In addition, the rapporteur accepted a demand from the ruralist group and transferred most of the functions of the National Supply Company (Conab) to the Agriculture portfolio, commanded by Carlos Fávaro (PSD).

With that, the attributions on agricultural policies, commercialization, supply, storage and guarantee of minimum prices leave the Ministry of Agrarian Development, commanded by Minister Paulo Texeira. Seen by members of the Agricultural Parliamentary Front (FPA) as an allied arm of the Landless Movement (MST) within the Lula government.

Carf MP must expire before approval of the project on the subject

On another front, the Planalto Palace works to shield changes in other provisional measures edited by Lula. In the case of the MP dealing with Bolsa Família, for example, the report, which has already been approved by the mixed commission, now allows the government to withdraw the Benefit of Continuous Provision (BPC) from the income calculation basis of possible beneficiaries, expanding the scope of the program.

In the case of the MP for Minha Casa Minha Vida, the rapporteur, Deputy Marangoni (União-SP), considers adding to the report the requirement that issues such as sustainability and connectivity be incorporated into the program. The text is valid until June 14, but there is still no agreement for voting in the joint committee.

In addition, the government should see the MP expire, which reestablished the rule that provides for the victory of the Federal Revenue in the event of a tie in the judgments of the Administrative Council of Tax Appeals (Carf). With no agreement to be processed, the Planalto Palace sent an urgent bill on the same subject, but the government supporters already admit that this device will not be voted on in time to replace the MP.

The impasse represents a defeat for the Minister of Finance, Fernando Hadadd, who sees the proposal as essential for rebalancing public accounts. The measure could yield up to R$ 50 billion to public coffers this year. “The government was in no hurry to order it and we have many outbreaks, but [o projeto] will follow”, minimized the mayor, Arthur Lira (PP-AL).

Lula’s decree on visa requirements may be overturned in the Chamber

After seeing the decree on the Sanitation Framework overthrown by the Chamber, the deputies articulated to overthrow Lula’s decree that resumed the visa requirement for tourists from countries like Japan, Australia, United States and Canada to enter Brazil. Last week, Deputy Felipe Carreras (PSB-PE), leader of Lira’s party bloc, submitted a request asking for urgency to vote on the annulment of the measure.

“Few Americans have a passport. The visa requirement will make them stop coming to Brazil, which would have a strong impact on the tourism sector”, argued the deputy.

The deputy, however, indicated that he has been seeking an agreement with the Planalto and with the leader of the government in the Chamber, José Guimarães (PT-SP), for Lula to revoke the measure before the House vote.

In 2019, the year in which Brazil waived the visa requirement for tourists from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia, the entry of citizens from these countries to Brazil increased by 11% compared to 2018, while the entry of tourists from other countries fell 5%.

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