The forecast of a deficit of 170.47 billion reais in the central government accounts in 2022 may be even greater with the proposals for payment of court orders and an increase in the value of the family allowance. In the view of specialists, the two ideas, which gained momentum this week, could blow the federal government’s spending ceiling.
But to include any amount that increases the gap in the accounts, congressional approval is required. The government still talks with lawmakers to assess the size of the political weariness of trying to pass on an issue like this.
Still under debate within the Executive, the payment of precatory orders by the Union reaches 90 billion reais in 2022. This year, the amount was 55 billion reais to pay for actions that the federal government lost in court and which can no longer be appealed.
“Since the spending ceiling was implemented, under Michel Temer’s government, there has always been a loophole to burst. Now, in the context of a campaign on the street, there’s a reason. But there was no conversation with minimal information and there is no proposal. They are going to make a ‘gambiarra’ to pay in installments”, says political scientist André Pereira César, from Hold Assessoria Legislativa.
This Wednesday, 4th, the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), said that it is “impossible” for the government to pay the 90 billion in precatório and defended the payment in installments.
“There is no possibility, there is no condition to pay 90 billion reais in the next year of court orders. It would consume all the country’s discretionary investment resources to pay court orders at once,” said the congressman in the morning, in interview with the program Newspaper People, from Rádio Bandeirantes.
The idea of splitting the payments, also defended by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, would be approved through a Proposal for Amendment to the Constitution (PEC). The big problem is that this way it takes two-thirds of the votes to get approval.
For the professor of economics and finance at FGV/EAESP, Nelson Marconi, currently the legislation does not allow the payment of payment in installments. “The government can even try to do this in a PEC. Today, it cannot postpone it because in practice it is taking out a loan. From a practical point of view, they are defaulting,” he says.
Family Allowance of up to R$ 400
Across Brazil, nearly 14 million people are served by Bolsa Família, which pays an average of 192 reais. President Jair Bolsonaro expressed on Tuesday, 3, his intention to increase the benefit to up to 400 reais.
The matter was discussed at a meeting between the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG), the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), the new minister of the Civil House, Ciro Nogueira, and Flavia Arruda, of the Secretariat of Government. It is Nogueira’s first test in command of the folder.
For specialists, the objective of the new Bolsa Família is clearly electoral. The president has even said that he wants to rename it. The cash transfer program was created by former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Bolsonaro’s main opponent in the 2022 elections.
During the pandemic, Bolsonaro felt the reflexes of having a cash transfer benefit at a higher value. Initial emergency aid of 600 reais, paid in the middle of last year, has put the president’s popularity soaring.
With the reduction of the value to 250 reais, on average, the positive assessment of the president plummeted, as shown by the latest EXAME/IDEIA survey. In addition to the drop in popularity, Lula took the lead in voting intention polls.
“The problem with this payment is that the proposal does not have a specific source, and this needs to have a budget forecast. In this way, they are creating a temporary source that could impact the budget for the following years”, explains FGV professor Nelson Marconi.
Political scientist André Pereira says that the approval of the new value of Bolsa Família is the main test of the Centrão, which gained more space in the last ministerial reform.
“It’s that either go or break thing. These are movements that do not admit defeat. An eventual rejection of the projects is politically bad. Another vote that we need to keep an eye on is the auditable vote, which could be the biggest defeat for the Bolsonaro government”, he says.