The Palácio do Planalto and the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), articulate strategies to gain political ground in Minas Gerais, governed by Romeu Zema (Novo), taking advantage of the opponent’s wear and tear.
The political wing of the government and allies of the Minas Gerais senator saw the Minas Gerais debt crisis with the Union as an opportunity to present a solution to an issue that has left Zema under pressure.
Furthermore, during a recent conversation, Pacheco asked President Lula (PT) for a greater presence in the state, which has not yet been visited by the president.
After a few months away, when Lula gave priority to forging alliances with the centrão in the Chamber, the president met with Pacheco on two occasions in less than two weeks.
The conversations took place at a time when the tide in the Senate was turning against the government, with the most obvious sign of difficulties being the rejection of Planalto’s nomination for the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
This defeat raised the alarm in Planalto, since future nominees for the PGR (Attorney General’s Office) and for the open vacancy in the STF (Federal Supreme Court) will still need to be questioned by senators.
In the first conversation they had, on November 3, Pacheco conveyed to Lula the senators’ dissatisfaction with the protagonism given to the Chamber and the lack of greater attention to the House.
The senator said that the government’s problems in the Senate are not related to nominations and amendments, as in the Chamber. Senators seek to participate in the Executive’s nomination process, considering that they will scrutinize these authorities.
According to interlocutors, Pacheco also asked Lula for greater participation in Minas and the need for political calculations in the state to enter the radar of priorities for the next electoral cycles.
The reading is that an effort by the government is necessary to elect allied mayors next year, thus building the basis to take over the government from Zema’s political group — who will not be able to be re-elected.
Lula responded to Pacheco that he intends to visit Minas later this year, to launch works under the New PAC (Growth Acceleration Program), and that the state will be offered more trips in 2024.
The PT and the federal government intend to complete macro planning for next year’s elections by April. In relation to Minas Gerais, Lula asked for priority for 12 municipalities.
These are medium-sized cities already administered by the PT, such as Contagem and Juiz de Fora.
In this context, the debt issue has become a priority in recent days. The articulation in Brasília also involves a second miner on the Esplanada, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silveira (PSD).
While Zema tries to approve the Fiscal Recovery Regime in the Legislative Assembly of Minas, Pacheco and Silveira have created a plan B with the President of the Republic himself.
The governor is racing against time to present to the STF by December 20th a proposal to pay the debt of R$160 billion with the Union.
The state government itself admits that, without this, state public servants will have their salaries delayed from February onwards and, “very likely”, will return to receiving payments in installments in the first half of the year.
The fiscal situation in Minas is not just a concern for state authorities. In Planalto, in addition to calculating the possible political benefits of a solution, there is a diagnosis that the problem could spill over to the federal sphere if Minas’s financial situation worsens. The PT assesses that it suffered political losses with the financial debacle in Minas when the state was governed by Fernando Pimentel.
Minas Gerais politicians assess that the main idea studied by Pacheco and Silveira, of federalizing some state-owned companies as a form of payment, would create political difficulties for Zema. The governor wants to sell these companies.
Last month, Zema presented the privatization model for Cemig (Companhia Energética de Minas Gerais) to state deputies. Zema also intends to privatize Copasa (Companhia de Saneamento de Minas Gerais).
Another state-owned company that could enter the negotiations with the Union is Codemig (Companhia de Desenvolvimento Econômico de Minas Gerais). The company currently manages the Araxá niobium reserve, considered the largest in the world.
On another front, the Union’s proposal could remove from Zema amounts that the state should receive in legal actions. One of the most coveted credits is the renegotiation of the agreement made after the dam collapse in Mariana, in 2015.
On Thursday (16), the visit of a caravan of state deputies to Pacheco’s office in the Senate — including the government leader in the Assembly, João Magalhães (MDB) — signaled Zema’s isolation.
Behind the scenes, the assessment is that he missed the opportunity to renegotiate the amount owed during the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL), his political ally, and now depends on Lula or the state Legislature.
Silveira and Pacheco took the ideas under discussion to Planalto and heard from the president that the government was interested in finding a formula that would definitively resolve the fiscal situation in Minas.
To allies, Pacheco denies that his articulation aims to weaken Zema to strengthen himself politically in the state.
In a note, the Government of Minas stated that the initiatives are not “able to eliminate the need for the RRF [Regime de Recuperação Fiscal]” on time, but “can greatly improve the future fiscal scenario.” He also said that the ideas “do not get in the way” and “add to the effort to equalize the debt.”
The government also declared that, close to the deadline set by the STF, “opposition political forces in the state clearly organized themselves to resist, but realized that the problem is structural and needs to be addressed.”
“We welcome this effort by President Rodrigo Pacheco and President Lula’s opening, as we would be able to make room, in the RRF environment, for inflationary adjustments to civil servants every year (and not just the minimum of two that we have already foreseen). ), also rescuing part of the state’s investment capacity in infrastructure.”