Chief Justice eyeing up a legacy with unfinished works program

. Feb 22, 2020
Supreme Court Chief Justice Dias Toffoli (left) Supreme Court Chief Justice Dias Toffoli (left). Photo: Abdias Pinheiro/Agência CNJ

Every president, at the end of his or her term, thinks about the legacy they will leave behind. In the case of the presidency of the Judiciary, it is no different. And Brazil’s current Supreme Court Chief Justice, Dias Toffoli, is showing more and more signs that he intends his legacy at the head of Brazil’s justice system to be linked with measures toward the country’s economic recovery.

The Brazilian Report has already shown that the Supreme Court’s agenda for this year is largely focused on the economy, with trials on tax definitions, railroad concessions, and sales of oil fields. During the ceremony to officially “open” the 2020 legislature, Dias Toffoli was praised by the heads of the House of Representatives and Senate for “his ability to build bridges.”


Chief Justice wants to extend these bridges—and conclude some unfinished ones—by focusing on the resumption of stalled construction projects in Brazil. Entitled &#8220;Destrava&#8221; (or Unlock), the initiative intends to seek solutions to conclude more than 14,000 projects around the country which are currently on hold, with a total budget of BRL 200 billion. This total corresponds to over two constructions for each of Brazil&#8217;s municipalities.</p> <p>The main targets of the Destrava program are works which cost over BRL 1.5 million and have been stopped since 2009. A survey by the association of Brazilian accounts courts showed that 28 percent of these works are found in the Southeast of Brazil: 13 percent in São Paulo, 8 percent in Rio de Janeiro, and 7 percent in Minas Gerais.</p> <p>Despite being launched by the head of the Supreme Court, the program goes far beyond the responsibility of Brazil&#8217;s court system, shown by the fact that only 1.2 percent of these projects are stalled due to intervention from courts. Meanwhile, 50.8 percent are suspended due to budgetary decisions.</p> <p>Among the main problems cited for the suspension of works are irregularities in the transfer of funds (20.9 percent) and the existence of pending issues with the contracted companies (20.5 percent). In 19 percent there are planning faults, and 17 percent are stalled due to budget freezes.</p> <p>Regarding the judicial issues, those that are not resolved by out of court agreements will integrate a trial target that will be proposed by the National Council of Justice later this year.</p> <h2>Education under construction</h2> <p>The Destrava project will begin in the state of Goiás, and this first phase is expected to run until July. The initial focus in the central-west state will be on daycare centers. At the end of 2019, 56 works were stopped or unfinished in 46 municipalities across the state.</p> <p>This decision follows one of the findings shown by the accounts courts survey, which is that 21.3 percent of the stopped works are linked to the field of education. Next comes <a href="">infrastructure</a> (18.8%), sanitation (15.2%), urban mobility (15.2%) and transportation (14%).

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Brenno Grillo

Brenno has worked as a journalist since 2012, specializing in coverage related to law and the justice system. He has worked for O Estado de S. Paulo, Portal Brasil, ConJur, and has experience in political campaigns.

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