Brazilian lawmakers adopt “war budget” as coronavirus cases exceed 10,000


SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s lower house of congress approved a constitutional amendment to a “war budget” to separate spending on coronaviruses from the government’s main budget and protect the economy as the country overtook 10,000 confirmed cases.

FILE PHOTO: Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro adjusts his protective mask at a press conference to announce measures to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brasilia, Brazil on March 18, 2020. REUTERS / Adriano Machado / File Photo

The war budget, which, according to the president of the lower house, Rodrigo Maia, could free up to 600 billion reais of extraordinary expenses, still has to be approved by the Senate by three-fifths of the votes in two rounds which should take place next week.

Friday evening, the lower house approved the main text of the bill with 423 votes in favor and one against in the second round. In the first round, the count was 505 votes in favor and two against.

The amendment creates an extraordinary regime to prevent spending related to the pandemic-triggered emergency decree, which runs until December 31, from being mixed with the federal budget over the same period.

In addition to easing budgetary and budgetary constraints to accelerate measures to combat the epidemic, the war budget also grants the Brazilian central bank powers to buy emergency bonds to stabilize the financial markets during crisis.

According to figures from the Ministry of Health published on Saturday afternoon, the number of deaths due to coronaviruses in Brazil increased from 359 to 431, against 359 confirmed cases.

Brazil is one of a number of countries struggling to get medical supplies from China.

President Jair Bolsonaro has asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help him supply pharmaceutical inputs for the production of hydroxychloroquine.

“We had a productive telephone conversation with President Jair Bolsonaro about how India and Brazil can join forces against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Modi wrote on his Twitter account.

Bolsonaro’s approval rating has dropped to its lowest level since taking office last year amid mounting criticism of his handling of the public health crisis.

Despite downplaying COVID-19 as a “little flu” on several occasions, Bolsonaro called on his supporters for a national day of fasting and prayer on Sunday to “free Brazil from this epidemic”.


Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said on Saturday that the coronavirus had forced the government to move from structural reforms to emergency measures, but the recovery still depends on tax cuts.

“Our way out of this crisis further will be to cut taxes, especially the most dysfunctional. … Creating jobs has to be easy, cheap and challenging, “he told representatives of the retail industry on Saturday.

Guedes acknowledged that some of the measures taken to “oxygenate the economy”, such as a reduction in bank reserve requirements, have not yet had the desired effect. “The banks are conservative and credit is not reaching those who need it,” he said.

Report by Gabriela Mello; Editing by David Clarke, Alistair Bell and Richard Chang

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.


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