Carnival is not only a time for people to tune out from their everyday lives and throw themselves into a five-day celebration featuring dance, music, and outrageous costumes—often prepared months in advance. However, according to a recent national poll, it seems that revelers do not think that public money should pay for their celebrations.

Apparently, 85.8 percent of people agree with reducing public investments for the party, redirecting them instead to priority areas such as education or healthcare. Also, 94 percent of people believe that the private sector should at least share the bill—most of them (72 percent of the total) want companies to pay for every dime spent on all the music infrastructure, booze, and security involved.

Who should pay for Carnival?

The debate about who should pay for Carnival is not new but has been gaining momentum after Brazil’s worst recession on record. In 2019, prosecutors sued the city of Goianésia, in the state of Goiás, trying to prevent it from using public money on Carnival. Plaintiffs alleged that a city struggling to meet its population’s basic needs shouldn’t allocate BRL 1 million to municipal festivities.

Fiscal crisis makes Brazilians rethink Carnival financing

In the town of Carolina in Maranhão state, prosecutors have requested the local mayor be impeached for the same reasons.

Other cities are voluntarily canceling Carnival altogether after not receiving subsidies from state governments. That was the case in the town of Formiga and Arcos, in Minas Gerais.  

But finding resources from the private sector is not as easy as it seems. A report by newspaper Folha de S.Paulo shows that Carnival block parties in Rio de Janeiro are struggling to find funding, mostly due to the administration model adopted by the city.

Municipal authorities hire private companies to coordinate the infrastructure, which gets the lion’s share of state resources in exchange for the authorization to negotiate sponsorships. But some of the needs, such as medical assistance, still must be provided by the block party organizers, which don’t have the money or expertise in finding such services on the private sector.  

Despite financial struggles, the carnival party keeps getting bigger. Rio de Janeiro estimates it may host even more tourists during this year’s festival than the 1.5 million who visited the city in 2018. The National Confederation of Commerce, Services and Tourism estimate that Carnival will generate 23,600 temporary jobs and a financial impact of BRL 6.78 billion in tourism in 2019—and Rio alone will get BRL 2.1 billion of it.

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BY Natália Tomé Scalzaretto

Natália Tomé Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Most recently, worked as an Editor for Trading News, the information division from TradersClub investor community.