July 2, 2021
1. CPI corners Bolsonaro with fraud and bribe accusations in vaccine purchase
The COVID parliamentary inquiry (CPI) is closing in on President Jair Bolsonaro regarding its investigation of alleged fraud and corruption in the purchase of vaccines. The CPI is investigating the government’s attempt to import the Covaxin vaccine at a higher price than the drugs already in use in the country. However, another accusation suggests that the government requested a bribe of USD $1 per dose for 400 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. A former director of the Ministry of Health – who has already been fired – was allegedly responsible for the request. It is still unclear if the company that offered the doses actually had access to them. AstraZeneca says it only negotiates with governments. The former director was also the one who signed the contract for the purchase of Covaxin. This order was cancelled earlier this week.
Today, the Prosecutor General requested that the Federal Supreme Court open an investigation into the alleged crime of prevarication by the President in the purchase of Covaxin vaccines. On Wednesday, a group formed by opposition parties including PT, PDT, PSB, PCdoB, PSOL and others, including former allies of the president, filed a “super request of impeachment” against Bolsonaro. The document combines 120 requests for impeachment and 23 accusations against the president. However, it must first be authorized by Chamber of Deputies President Arthur Lira to move forward. Although the government is facing a crisis, members of Congress who are part of Centrão are still supporting the administration. Opposition leaders, unions and social groups have organized a protest for tomorrow to demand the impeachment.
O Estado de S. Paulo: Denúncias de corrupção pressionam governo
Folha de S.Paulo: Governo pediu propina de US$ 1 por vacina, diz vendedor
O Estado de S. Paulo: PGR pede abertura de inquérito contra Bolsonaro
Folha de S.Paulo: Ex-diretor acusado de propina também liberou a Covaxin
Folha de S. Paulo: Entenda a cronologia da crise
G1: Saiba mais sobre a CPI da Covid
2. ‘Thugs in the Senate Commission will not get us out of here,’ says President Bolsonaro
This week, President Jair Bolsonaro responded to the growing number of accusations of corruption and bribery in his government. “We are still living difficult times and I have said to everyone: the greatest good of a nation is the freedom of its people, which is more valuable than life itself. Because without it, life wouldn’t exist,” he said during a public event. “They can’t reach us. It is not with lies or with a CPI with seven thugs that are going to get us out of here,” he said referencing opposition senators who are part of the COVID CPI.
Bolsonaro also defended himself from the accusation of prevarication. The president is accused of prevarication due to having been informed that the Covaxin vaccines were purchased at an inflated cost but doing nothing to investigate the situation. Bolsonaro said he cannot know everything that goes on in 22 ministries. “I can’t know what happens in ministries. I trust the ministries and we have done nothing wrong,” he claimed.
3. Number of deaths and hospitalizations drop among 60 to 70-year-olds
The number of deaths caused by coronavirus among 60 to 70-year-olds has dropped. According to the Ministry of Health, the drop follows the mass vaccination for this age group, which started in March. One month after this group had been vaccinated, they represented 23% of people in the hospital and 29% of deaths related to COVID-19. Last month, these rates dropped to 11% and 16% respectively. According to Fiocruz (Fundação Oswaldo Cruz) researcher and virologist Raphael Guimarães, this is “surely an effect of the vaccine.”
Brazil is currently seeing a drop in the average number of daily deaths caused by COVID-19. Last week, the rate of occupancy of ICU beds dropped in 18 state capitals and in the Federal District. In total, Brazil has registered over 520,000 deaths from the virus since last year. Confirmed cases amount to over 18.6 million. The vaccination campaign – which specialists consider to be moving slowly – has administered 100 million doses, with 35.2% of Brazilians having received the first dose, but only 12.5% being fully vaccinated.
Folha de S.Paulo: Mortes de sexagenários caem após vacinação
O Estado de S. Paulo: País aplica mais de 100 milhões de vacinas
G1: Leia mais notícias sobre a pandemia
G1: Veja como está a vacinação no país
4. Government wants to tax profits and dividends, increase range of exemptions
The administration’s proposal for the second round of the Tax Reform plans to tax profits and dividends paid to individuals, which have been exempt since 1996. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes defended the change. According to him, the 20% tax on companies is lower than what is seen in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, which tax companies an average of 25%. The set of measures that was sent to Congress also proposes raising the monthly income ceiling of tax exemption for individuals from R$ 1,903.98 (USD $378) to R$ 2,500.00 (USD $496). With this change, over 5.6 million people would be exempt from the tax.
Another change that has been presented to Congress is to limit the use of the simple annual income declaration for people with an annual income below R$ 40,000 (USD $7,940). According to the Fiscal Policy Observer at Fundação Getulio Vargas, this change will potentially increase taxes for 2 million taxpayers. Presently, every taxpayer can pay their taxes in a simplified way, automatically charging 20% of taxable income. The current limit for this charge is R$ 16,754.34 (USD $3,326). The proposal must be approved by Congress and it can still be altered.
5. Extra tariff on electricity increases price 52% per 100 kWh as of this month
This week, the Brazilian National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL) has increased the maximum additional fee charged when the cost of electricity increases – known as Red Flag Level 2 – by 52%. The extra charge per 100 kWh increases prices from R$ 6.24 to R$ 9.49. According to Fundação Getulio Vargas, the average increase in electricity bills will be 8.12% this month. The extra charge aims to collect additional funds in order to pay for thermoelectric energy, which the government has used as an alternative due to the drought.
According to ANEEL, the extra tariff will continue to be charged until November, when the rainy season begins, and rainfall levels are expected to return to normal. During a statement shown on TV, Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque asked Brazilians to use water and energy in a “conscious and responsible” way. Other tariffs also saw price changes: the Yellow Flag went from R$ 1.34 to R$ 1.87 and the Red Flag Level 1 dropped from R$ 4.16 to R$ 3.97 per 100 kWh. The Green Flag tariff, which indicates a more favorable situation, continues with no additional charge. The last adjustment of tariff flags took place in 2019.