January 17, 2020
1. President of the Chamber of Deputies plans tax reform approval in first half of the year
Chamber of Deputies President Rodrigo Maia said that members of Congress will get the tax reform approved in the first half of the year. According to Maia, changes in the tax burden and a simplification of the tax system are priorities for Congress. Maia also said members of Congress are in agreement on the changes of the complex Brazilian tax system, despite the very tight political schedule of 2020 – which will be underscored by municipal elections. However, the Federal Government has reservations concerning the work of the Legislative Power. Through political alliances, the administration plans to suggest changes to the tax reform proposal.
2. Survey confirms increase of Evangelicals in the country
A survey conducted by Instituto Datafolha and published this week reveals an increase in the number of Evangelicals across the country. Currently, 50% of Brazilians claim to be Roman Catholics, 31% say they are Evangelicals and 10% say they have no religion. The data confirms what sociologists have been predicting: by 2032 Evangelicals will outnumber Catholics. The decline in the number of Catholics and the growth of the Evangelical movement is an ongoing process that increased in the 1990s and has intensified over the past few years. This development influences the political elite of the country. Evangelicals constitute the largest group in Congress and are the most ardent supporters of the Jair Bolsonaro administration. “Politics, economy and religion”: read this week’s political analysis at Brasília Report.
3. Black Friday drives sales growth, but still below expectations
According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, retail sales increased by 0.6% in November, driven by Black Friday. The institute says that sales in November were the highest since 2016, suggesting signs of economic recovery. However, economists say that growth was below expectations, as they predicted growth of 3.9% in comparison to the previous year. The feeling of frustration with subpar growth rates led to a drop in the São Paulo Stock Exchange this week. On Wednesday, B3’s trading floor ended the day with a 1% drop to 116,000 points. The decline in the financial market indicates that economic recovery could have been better than what was observed at the end of 2019.
4. Special Secretary of Culture launches national award and causes controversy
On the night of Thursday, the Bolsonaro administration’s Special Secretary of Culture, Roberto Alvim, posted a video on social media launching the National Arts Awards. The awards aim to “promote the rebirth of art, providing over R$ 20 million (USD $4.8 million) to opera, theater, painting, sculpture, literature, music and comic book projects in all five regions of the country.” However, the secretary’s speech was criticized by opposition parties, the press and the Brazilian Jewish community. The criticism arose due to striking similarities between Alvim’s speech and a 1933 speech by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. In his video, Alvim says “Brazilian art in the next decade will be heroic and national. It will be endowed with a great capacity for emotional involvement,” matching almost word-for-word a speech made by Goebbels during the Nazi regime in Germany. The Brazilian Israelite Confederation (CONIB) – the largest representative body of the Jewish community in the country – demanded that the secretary be removed from office. Earlier today, Alvim was forced to resign.
Valor Econômico: Em vídeo, secretário da Cultura parafraseia Goebbels e provoca onda de repúdio nas redes
5. Administration reopens research base in Antarctica
On Wednesday, the Brazilian research base in Antarctica was reopened. The opening event took place eight years after a fire killed two military personnel and completely destroyed the building. In 2015, Dilma Rousseff’s administration began to rebuild the base. The Comandante Ferraz Antarctic Station received a total investment of R$ 400 million (USD $96.1 million) and can house up to 64 researchers from the Brazilian Antarctic Program (Proantar) – which was created in 1982 – and military personnel. Vice President Hamilton Mourão, Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes and Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo participated in the reopening ceremony.
Click here for the Brasilia Report, a weekly analysis prepared by JeffreyGroup Senior Advisor in Brasilia, Gustavo Krieger.