For emergency aid, Congress to cut health, education spending, says newspaper

aid program congress brazil
From left to right: President Jair Bolsonaro, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco, and House Speaker Arthur Lira. Photo: Pedro França/AS/CN/CC-BY

To make room for the new Covid-19 emergency aid program for workers, Congress is set to allow federal and local governments to slash spending on education and health, as well as freezing civil servants’ salaries for up to two years, according to information obtained by newspaper O Globo. 

States and municipalities must allocate 25 percent of their revenue to education spending, meaning the measure would open up significant space for wealth-transfer policies. 

The proposal is part of Senator Marcio Bittar’s report on a constitutional amendment bill known as the “Emergency PEC”, which is also set to include elements of the future public service reform. Congress slated the bill for a vote on February 25, but the process should drag on further, as it requires the approval of three-fifths of lawmakers in two rounds of voting in both the House and Senate. 

Additionally, news website G1 reports that expenditure on the new emergency aid program will not be factored into the existing public spending ceiling. The Economy Ministry is still to establish the total cost of the initiative; currently, the amount is estimated at BRL 30 billion (USD 5.5 billion).

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