Government asks Congress to declare a state of public calamity

Approval of the measure will facilitate healthcare spending; proposal doesn’t include the suspension of austerity laws

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
Congress needs to approve the measure - Pedro França/Agência Senado

Due to the global coronavirus outbreak, Brazil’s federal government has declared a state of public calamity. Congress still needs to approve the measure. With the change, it will not be possible to veto increases in spending and the government will no longer have to stick to the 2020 fiscal budget. The proposal opens the door to more funding for healthcare.

The official press release states, “In virtue of the permanent monitoring of the Covid-19 pandemic, of the need to increase public spending to protect people’s health and job security, of the projected decrease in tax revenues, the federal government will ask the nation’s Congress to declare a public calamity”.

In the same statement, the government maintains the position of defending the approval of structural reforms, even though they haven’t proposed any specific measures, like tax reform to Congress. The communique indicates that there will not be any changes to the expenditures limit, again inferring that austerity policies will supposedly increase confidence in the markets.

The Federal Government reinforces it’s commitment to the structural reforms necessary for the transformation of the Brazilian State, for the maintenance of the budget limits as an anchor for a fiscal regime that creates confidence and generates the necessary investments to get back to our sustainable growth dynamic”.

Bolsonaro says reaction is "hysteria"

While the Health and Finance Ministries are announcing measures to try and contain the crisis, Jair Bolsonaro again minimized the effects the coronavirus is having. In a radio interview, the retired army captain, went as far as saying that he will throw a birthday party this weekend to celebrate his 65th birthday, and criticized steps taken by local authorities. “This virus brought about a certain hysteria. Some governors, in my understanding, I may be wrong, are taking steps that will harm our economy a lot”.

In the president’s view, there is “hysteria” in the reactions to the virus.

Life goes on, we don’t have to be hysterical. It’s not because there’s some people gathered here or there sporadically. What now, what happens next? It’s harmful”.

Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas