Visibly upset, Jair Bolsonaro participated in a Monday meeting with bankers and said he will not sign “any letter” in support of democracy. The president remained defensive throughout the meeting and took the opportunity to criticize his main opponent and frontrunner in the 2022 race, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
A few days ago, the Brazilian federation of banks signed a manifesto in defense of democratic values, organized by the Federation of Industries of São Paulo — a rare move for companies that tend to prefer to operate behind the scenes.
Mr. Bolsonaro mocked the letter’s signatories. “A democrat does not need to sign a little letter,” he joked, stating that the purpose of the documents was to campaign for Lula, the current frontrunner of the polls. Eight presidential candidates have already signed the letter, Lula included.
The president also appealed to banks to offer payroll deduction loans to beneficiaries of social programs targeting poor families. On Wednesday, Mr. Bolsonaro ratified a bill allowing for beneficiaries to commit up to 40 percent of their monthly revenue to these loans.
Annual interests for borrowers can reach between 79 and 98 percent. Experts warn of the possible side effects of the move in the mid-term, considering that over 77 percent of Brazilian families are already in debt, and 28 percent are in default.
Multiple banks — such as Itaú, Bradesco, and NuBank — say they will not offer payroll deduction loans. Nubank went as far as publishing a blog post on why taking out payroll deduction credit is not a good idea for customers.