Senate to vote on sanitation legal framework, a hope for new money

Senate to vote on sanitation legal framework, a hope for new money
Sanitation workers in Salvador. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

Brazil’s Senate President Davi Alcolumbre announced that the new sanitation legal framework bill will be voted on next Wednesday, June 24. The vote will go ahead, despite lingering criticism about the suitability of remote voting for such an important piece of legislation. Several senators voiced their concerns about the move.

The vote follows two months of discussions and negotiations in the Senate. Critics of the remote vote, such as Social Democratic Party Senate Whip Otto Alencar, claim there is no connection between the Covid-19 pandemic and the bill, because “basic sanitation has to do with diseases transmitted by water, not by air, such as in the case of the coronavirus.”

Data, however, shows that the number of Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants is significantly lower in areas with better sanitation coverage.

Moreover, the bill is seen by the government as a way to kickstart the economy. It would open the sanitation sector to private companies — which could attract some BRL 700 billion in new investments. If approved, companies would have until 2033 (or 2040, in exceptional cases) to deliver drinking water to 99 percent of the population and a sewage system to at least 90 percent of Brazilians.

 The bill is a priority project for House Speaker Rodrigo Maia and was approved by the lower house on November 27, 2019. As Brazil’s economy continues to tank, the government hopes measures as infrastructure measures will attract investment.

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