January 31, 2020
1. Economy Ministry publishes privatization schedule
This week, the Economy Ministry’s Secretary of Destatization, Salim Mattar, presented the timeline of privatizations planned through the end of President Jair Bolsonaro’s time in office. Among the state companies that will be privatized include Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos (Correios), responsible for the Brazilian postal service, and Empresa Brasil de Comunicação (EBC) – tasked with the communication of government initiatives. Their privatization is planned for 2021 and 2022, respectively. State companies considered strategic to the administration, such as Petrobras, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal were not included in the privatization calendar as a result of a political decision by President Jair Bolsonaro. The economic team had intended to sell them. Polls show that Brazilians have never been so dissatisfied with democracy. The problem is bigger than the government, the Justice Department and Congress. It is a structural issue resulting from a democracy lacking efficiency. Read the political analysis in this week’s Brasília Report.
Valor Econômico: Reforma administrativa é mais fácil de aprovar, avalia Guedes
UOL: Reforma administrativa “é simples de aprovar”, diz Guede
2. Administration to prese
The federal government is expected to send a bill to Congress outlining plans to restructure the Brazilian public service within the next two weeks, according to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes. During an event with political leaders in São Paulo, Guedes stated that there shouldn’t be much political resistance to the bill, as the proposal will only change the rights of new public servants. According to the economy team, the plan is to lower financial costs of government employees by establishing and readjusting rules for stability, remuneration and assessment. Consequently, the changes would be a relief to public coffers. The bill is a priority reform for 2020, in addition to the tax reform. Even though the administration is optimistic, some leaders in Congress have promised to block the bill.
3. For the sixth consecutive year, public spending finished the year in the red
A balance made public by the National Treasury Secretariat revealed that there was a R$ 95.065 billion (USD $22.2 billion) deficit in public spending in 2019. In 2018, the deficit was R$ 120 billion (USD $28 billion). This is the sixth consecutive year in which the federal government has spent more than it collected – despite being the smallest deficit in five years. The main reasons for the deficit decreasing include greater tax collection – the most in five years – and funds received from the auction of transfer of rights. Public investments amounted to R$ 56.593 billion (USD $13.2 billion) in 2019. Government investments aimed specifically at infrastructure amounted to R$ 27.081 billion (USD $6.3 billion) last year. In 2018, the amount was R$ 27.595 (USD $6.5 billion). However, last year’s results do not come close to the goal established by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, who wanted to make the deficit zero in 2019.
4. Bolsonaro flies over areas hit by storms in the southeast
On Thursday, President Jair Bolsonaro travelled to Belo Horizonte to fly over areas hit by damaging storms. For at least two weeks, heavy rain has caused havoc in Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo. Bolsonaro was accompanied by Minas Gerais Governor Romeu Zema and an entourage including ministers from the departments of Defense, Infrastructure, Citizenship, Health, Tourism, Regional Development and Government Secretariat. The group met at Confins International Airport in Minas Gerais. On Sunday, the federal government said that R$ 90 million (USD $21 million) had been made immediately available to the cities hit by the rains.
O Globo: Bolsonaro desembarca em Belo Horizonte para sobrevoo de áreas atingidas por chuvas
5. Brazil monitors nine suspected cases of coronavirus
According to the Ministry of Health, six Brazilian states are monitoring nine different patients suspected of having been infected with coronavirus. All suspected cases match the criteria for concern released by the World Health Organization (WHO), meaning that the patients present fever and at least one other respiratory symptom, as well as having travelled to the most heavily affected region of China – in the last 14 days. From January 18th to the 31st, the government registered 43 suspect cases, according to the Ministry of Health. Even though there are still no confirmed cases of infected Brazilians in the country, the ministry believes that the disease will hit Brazil in the near future.
Click here for the Brasilia Report, a weekly analysis prepared by JeffreyGroup Senior Advisor in Brasilia, Gustavo Krieger.