Chamber approves PEC that expands social spending in election year: understand the arguments for and against

Chamber approves PEC that expands social spending in election year: understand the arguments for and against

The Chamber of Deputies approved, in the second round, the basic text of the proposed amendment to the constitution (PEC) that creates and expands a series of social benefits on the eve of this year’s elections. Voting took place on Wednesday night (7/13). The proposal had 469 votes in favour, 17 votes against and two abstentions.

The PEC, which had been approved in the first round by 393 votes in favor and 14 against on Tuesday (12/7), opens a gap for spending of up to R$ 41 billion outside the federal government’s spending ceiling.

Highlights (suggestions for changes to the approved base text) were rejected in the Chamber. Now, the proposal goes to enactment.

Approved just over three months before the presidential elections, the PEC opened a debate on whether it would be an electoral maneuver or an urgent measure to help the poorest – these are the two main arguments for and against the proposal.

According to the proposal, the PEC provides for recognition of an emergency situation allegedly caused by high inflation and the creation of two benefits: a voucher of R$1,000 per month for self-employed truck drivers and an allowance for taxi drivers. . Together the two should consume R$ 7.4 billion.

In addition, the text determines an adjustment from R$ 400 to R$ 600 in the value of Auxílio Brasil and the end of the waiting list for the benefit, which should cost around R$ 26 billion.

Reinforcements are also planned for the gas allowance (R$ 1.05 billion), Alimenta-Brasil (R$ 500 million), free public transport for the elderly (R$ 2.5 billion) and credits for the production of ethanol (R$ 3.8 billion).

In addition to the huge impact on public accounts, the PEC has been criticized by experts and the opposition for allegedly violating electoral legislation.

Under current legislation, governments are prohibited from creating benefits or distributing benefits that are not already running in the year in which the elections are held.

To circumvent this prohibition, the PEC provides for the recognition of the emergency situation, which, according to the Federal Constitution, would open up the possibility for the government to create benefits regardless of the proximity of the elections.

The main criticisms of the measure highlight the fact that it goes to the vote at a time when President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) appears in second place in the most recent main polls of voting intentions, behind former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ( PT).

The government, on the other hand, defends the measure as a way to deal with the consequences of the sharp rise in fuel prices and its impacts on the inflation of other products such as food.

On the eve of the general elections in October of this year, the votes of the PEC in the Senate and in the special commission of the Chamber created to evaluate the matter, however, showed a curious scenario.

Despite classifying the measure as electoral, most of the opposition voted in favor of the proposal in the Senate and the House.

In the Senate, for example, the only vote against the PEC was by José Serra (PSDB-SP).

Understand below the main arguments for and against the PEC that expands social spending in an election year.

Urgency and aid to the poorest: the arguments in favor

For the government leader in the Chamber of Deputies, Ricardo Barros (PP-PR), the PEC is necessary to deal with the increase in prices around the world that hit Brazil because, among other factors, of the war between Russia and Ukraine.

“Fuel has gone up in price all over the world. […] what does that mean? That several countries are taking measures to contain inflation, reduce fuel prices, reduce the impact of the increase in food that stems from the war between Russia and Ukraine,” Barros said last week in a speech to the Chamber.

The PEC rapporteur in the Chamber, Danilo Forte (União Brasil-CE), says that it is important to help more than 30 million in vulnerable situations.

Woman holds empty bowl
Hunger grew during the Jair Bolsonaro government

“What is in focus here is how we can do at this moment to create a legal basis for support and a policy of social assistance, inclusion and citizenship for millions of Brazilians who today are in need […] even being a rich country, we have brothers in need”, said the deputy.

Federal deputy Captain Alberto Neto (PL-AM) defended that the PEC is a way of fixing distortions caused by the international scenario.

“You can’t stand still. […] This money that will be put into our country, the billions that will be put into our economy, will be put into food, will be put into entrepreneurship, will be put into place to encourage our people to get out of a miserable situation,” he said. the parliamentarian during a hearing of the special commission of the Chamber created to evaluate the measure.

Ricardo Barros countered the criticism against the PEC. “Right now, we need to help people, and the fact that we have elections in Brazil is no demerit. It is not an electoral PEC. It is a PEC at a time when the government needs to act.”

Fiscal lack of control and electoral measures: the arguments against

At the other end of the debate on the proposal, opposition parties and even some who normally vote with the government criticized the PEC.

The main arguments against the measure are that it harms the country’s economic and fiscal scenario, in addition to allegedly violating electoral legislation, which prohibits the creation of benefits in the years in which elections are held.

The opposite position to the measure that became better known in the last two was that of Senator José Serra. In his profile on Twitter, he classified the proposal as “electoral”.

“The pretext was to defend those who need it most, but this should be done in another way. […] In fact, the “package of kindnesses” is electoral, it only goes until December 2022 and compromises the future of public accounts,” Serra said in a series of posts.

He also pointed out that the approval of the measure could have negative impacts on the country’s economy.

“Furthermore, the loss of fiscal credibility will stimulate inflation, higher interest rates and reduce the investments needed to generate employment and income, which is the most important policy to combat poverty that we have”, said the parliamentarian.

Queue of people waiting for service in front of the Cras unit in Recife
Queue of people waiting for service in front of the registration unit in Recife

Federal deputy Marcel Van Hatten (Novo-RS) followed the same line as the toucan. He “regretted” that despite part of the parliamentarians being aware of the supposed harmful effects of the measure, the Chamber would approve the PEC.

“Many others who know that this PEC will bring problems. They know that it will generate more inflation, they know that the dollar will shoot up, they know that it will generate much more economic turmoil, but because it (turmoil) is not felt in the short term, they are also voting in favor. I’m very sorry,” said the MP.

The minority leader in the Chamber, Alencar Santana (PT-SP), classified the proposal as an “electoral fraud”. This is because benefits such as the voucher to be paid to truck and taxi drivers will only be valid until December this year.

“What they want to do, manipulation, is so much electoral fraud that they only want to do until December 2022. In January, it goes back to what it was before,” Santana said.

“And the people know what is happening here in this house today. And the people know what the president’s intention was. Clearly he knows what it is. [A medida é] to see if it improves the indexes [de popularidade]”, said the deputy.

Source: BBC News Brazil

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