August 23, 2019


1. Fires in the Amazon discussed in Brasilia

Fires in the Amazon region – which have increased by 70% in comparison to the same period of the previous year – affected the political discussions in Brasília. On Wednesday, President Jair Bolsonaro claimed that the fires might have been set by members of NGOs unhappy with budget cuts and the administration’s environmental policies. The statement generated an uproar from environmentalists, politicians and environmental journalists. They say that the President, when confronted by the scientific community and by the press, responds aggressively. The issue has also been discussed internationally: António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, said he is worried about the forest fires in the Amazon region. This week, the Brazilian government published a request for applications from companies specialized in surveillance and monitoring of biomes to aid in the matter.

UOL: O que está acontecendo na Amazônia? Ambientalistas explicam
G1: Amazônia concentra metade das queimadas em 2019
G1: Bolsonaro diz que ONGs podem estar por trás de queimadas na Amazônia para ‘chamar atenção’ contra o governo

2. Bolsonaro is pressured to veto “Law on Abuse of Authority”

Judges, prosecutors, federal police officers and other members of institutions responsible for law enforcement are pressuring President Jair Bolsonaro to completely veto the Law on Abuse of Authority, which was recently approved in Congress. They claim the law imposes a number of restrictions on criminal investigations, especially investigations into corruption, which could affect Operation Car Wash. They say that this is a new test for Bolsonaro, who was elected by promising to fight organized crime and enforce harsher punishments. However, the Order of Attorneys in Brazil released a statement supporting the full approval of the law. According to the entity, the law represents progress, as it guarantees the right of defence and demonstrates an appreciation for lawyers. Bolsonaro has until the beginning of September to make a decision.

Bolsonaro and the Car Wash investigation: read the political analysis of the week at Brasilia Report

Valor Econômico: Juízes da Lava-Jato protestam contra PL do abuso de autoridade no PR
Folha de S.Paulo: Bolsonaro avalia vetos à lei de abuso de autoridade, e reação da Câmara preocupa

3. Government announces privatization of state companies

This week, the administration’s economy team announced the privatization of nine state companies. Among them are: Correios (postal service); Serpro (data processing); Telebras (telecommunications) and the port of Santos (SP). Previously, the government had announced a list of 17 companies to be privatized. The privatization program will have to be analyzed by Congress, which is responsible for authorizing the sale of state companies. The administration did not reveal how long the privatization process should take or how much it expects to make with sales. However, the privatizations are happening while the administration is trying to reduce public expending. Politicians from the opposition criticized the decision and promised to battle the sales when they are discussed in Congress.

UOL: Governo promete lista de 17 privatizações, divulga 9 e não fala em datas
G1: Governo anuncia plano para privatizar nove empresas estatais; veja lista

4. Federal revenue registers growth

This week, the Department of Federal Revenue announced that federal tax collections had the best result in eight years. The federal government collected approximately R$ 137 billion (USD $ 33.29 billion) in taxes, a 2.95% increase in comparison to the same period of the previous year. The increase is due in part to deals with economy technicians, company restructurings and circumstances that enabled the collection of both Social Contribution on Net Profit (CSLL) and Income Tax on Legal Entities (IRPJ) – which contributed to a bigger revenue. However, the government budget is still in deficit year after year. In 2019, the administration expects to have a debt of R$ 139 billion (USD $33.78 billion). Far from fulfilling the campaign promise of putting an end to the deficit, the economy team sees the increase in revenue with optimism, as it indicates an increase in economic activity.

G1: No melhor julho em 8 anos, arrecadação soma R$ 137 bi e tem alta real de 2,95%, diz Receita
Folha de S. Paulo: Arrecadação federal cresce 2,95% em julho e atinge R$ 137,7 bi, a melhor para o mês em oito anos

5. Minister of Health takes a stand on use of medicinal cannabidiol

Minister of Health Luiz Henrique Mandetta told the press that he does not oppose the use of cannabidiol – one of the active ingredients of cannabis sativa. The minister mentioned scientific studies showing the benefits of the substance in treating recurring seizures. However, he said that the low demand for drugs with cannabidiol means the medication should not be produced in Brazil. The National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) – the department responsible for the issue in Brazil – authorizes the registration of medications with cannabidiol but does not authorize the planting of cannabis sativa. The agency is currently conducting public hearings to discuss the possibility of cannabis cultivation for medicinal use, even with the government’s restrictions.

G1: Ministro da Saúde defende o registro de medicamentos à base de canabidiol, mas não o plantio da Cannabis
G1: Ministro da Saúde se diz a favor do uso da maconha medicinal, mas descarta uso recreativo

Brasilia Report

Click here for the Brasilia Report, a weekly analysis prepared by JeffreyGroup Senior Advisor in Brasilia, Gustavo Krieger.