September 20, 2020
1. Electoral schedule and end of year holidays could delay voting
The postponement of the 2020 municipal elections has also delayed a vote on reforms promoted by the federal government until 2021. Municipal elections – which were originally slated to take place in October – are still ongoing, as a second round of votes will take place on the last Sunday of November. As a result, Congress will not have time to discuss or vote on proposals made by the economy team, such as the tax reform and the administrative reform. These matters, which are considered to be controversial, might not be discussed until after the changes in the presidencies of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate, in February 2021.
This week, however, President of the Chamber of Deputies Rodrigo Maia (DEM/RJ) met opposition leaders to set a more urgent schedule of votes to take place before the end of his mandate next year. The schedule would include a new bankruptcy law and financial support for medium and small companies (PRONAMPE).
Valor Econômico: Maia negocia com oposição agenda de votações até o fim de seu mandato
O Globo: Líderes do Congresso fecham agenda de votações e deixam reformas para depois do segundo turno das eleições
2. Number of labor lawsuits increased during the pandemic
According to data shared by the Superior Labor Court, there has been a 263% increase in the number of labor lawsuits in Brazil during the pandemic. In these lawsuits, according to the data, workers question laws relating to unregulated practices, such as telework, working from home or remote jobs. According to experts, the increasing judicialization of labor relationships between workers and employers is due to the lack of clear rules for this type of work.
Experts also say that companies and workers still find it difficult to follow labor rules. Another issue is due to employee expenses while working remotely. Bills have already been submitted to the National Congress with the aim of regulating the issue, but votes are still pending.
3. ANVISA eases rules for COVID-19 vaccine registration; first doses arrive in Brazil
On Wednesday, the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) published regulations easing the procedures for companies to register new vaccines – a requirement to authorize their use in Brazil. The agency’s directors have dismissed the required regulatory impact analyses and public hearings to register the drugs. The agency now also allows for companies to send their registration documents in instalments, no longer requiring the document in its entirety.
Last week, while some pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Moderna were sharing efficiency test results, the São Paulo state government was importing its first doses of the CoronaVac vaccine, produced by the Chinese lab Sinovac. 120,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in the country on Thursday.
4. São Paulo mayoral election goes to second round
Following a complicated vote count in which the announcement of results by the Superior Electoral Court wasdelayed, the city of São Paulo will choose its mayor in a second round of votes. The race is between incumbent mayor Bruno Covas (PSDB) and Guilherme Boulos (PSOL). The vote will take place on the last Sunday of November.
The candidate endorsed by President Jair Bolsonaro – federal representative Celso Russomanno (Republicanos) – was ahead in the polls at the beginning of the race but eventually finished in fourth place, behind former governor of São Paulo Márcio França (PSB).
Although both Covas and Boulos claim to oppose the federal government, the two candidates have very different political views. Covas is a social-democrat from the center-right. He is in favor of fiscal austerity and is a strong advocate for his political party, which has controlled the state for decades. Boulos on the other hand is an underdog. He belongs to a party with well-defined social agendas that he promises to implement as soon as elected. The latest polls from Instituto Datafolha show Covas in the lead with 58% of the vote, followed by Boulos with 35%.
5. Bolsonaro backs down and does not share list of importers of illegal wood
On Tuesday, during a BRICS meeting, President Jair Bolsonaro said that he would share a list of countries that imported illegal timber from Brazil. During his weekly social media live stream, however, the president backed down.
In his regular live stream, which takes place every Thursday on Facebook, the president didn’t say which countries actually import the product illegally. Bolsonaro mentioned France and accused the country of making it difficult for Mercosur and the European Union to sign a free trade deal.
The president’s statements were made while the government is being pressured by other countries, international organizations and investment funds to deal with the issues of deforestation and fires in the Amazon and in Pantanal as well as to establish a clear environmental policy.