Interim Brazil govt to tighten budget

  • 14/05/2016
Interim President Michel Temer. (Reuters)
Interim President Michel Temer. (Reuters)

Brazil's centre-right interim government says it has the political support for tough measures needed to return the economy to growth.

It believes it can secure a permanent mandate once leftist President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment trial is over.

Presidential Chief of Staff Eliseu Padilha said on Friday the incoming government understood it was only provisional for now and had ordered portraits of Ms Rousseff to be left hanging in federal buildings.

Interim President Michel Temer was sworn into office on Thursday after Ms Rousseff was suspended from office by the Senate for up to 180 days while she is tried on charges of breaking budget rules.

Ms Rousseff, ousted from the presidential palace, took to the offensive, telling foreign reporters in her residence that she had been dislodged by an "illegitimate" and "extremely conservative" government run by only white males who would roll back social advances made by her Workers Party.

Mr Padilha said Ms Rousseff had left Brazil with unprecedented levels of fiscal deficit and public debt, and most Brazilians are aware that hard measures are needed to pull the country out a severe economic recession.

"We have enough support to pass urgent measures through Congress," he told a news conference following the government's first cabinet meeting, pointing to the distribution among nine political parties of 23 ministerial posts in a slimmed-down cabinet.

Despite having no electoral mandate, Mr Temer promptly unveiled on Thursday an agenda of liberal reforms - including cuts to public spending and pension reforms - that would swing Brazil to the right after 13 years of leftist Workers Party rule.

To start with, Planning Minister Romero Juca announced on Friday that 4000 jobs would be cut from the federal government payroll by the end of the year.

Mr Juca said reforms to Brazil's pension and tax system were crucial to getting public debt under control in the midst of Brazil's worst economic crisis ever.

However, he added Mr Temer would avoid the kinds of drastic measures that fuelled popular anger in debt-strapped Greece and Italy.

Putting Brazil on a path to growth again is considered a priority after a crisis brought on by the end of the commodities boom and aggravated by a massive corruption scandal surrounding state-run oil company Petrobras.

Brazilians have taken to the streets in record numbers in recent years to protest against inefficient and corrupt government and they will reward a government that can restore confidence and investment, Mr Temer's ministers said.

The margin of the vote in the Senate to suspend Ms Rousseff, 55 to 22, showed Mr Temer's government has support in Congress needed for a series of tough economic reforms, Mr Padilha said.

A two-thirds vote in the upper house is needed to convict Ms Rousseff and remove her from office permanently.

Mr Temer would then complete her term until 2018.