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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The federal government of Brazil announced on Thursday it posted the third largest primary surplus in history for month of January, last month. According to officials the central government registered a surplus of R$18.968 billion, up by 21.4 percent from the January 2016 surplus of R$14.835 billion.

President Temer’s spokesperson, Alexandre Parola, Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro
President Temer’s spokesperson, Alexandre Parola said last month’s surplus removes the country’s accounts from negative territory, photo by Clauber Cleber Caetano/PR.

“The number released today comes in addition to a series of positive indicators, such as the reduction of the interest rate announced by the Central Bank yesterday, a significant increase in foreign investment flows and the first signs of a resumption of employment,” said President Temer’s spokesperson, Alexandre Parola in a press briefing.

According to Parola last month’s surplus removes the country’s accounts from negative territory and is a sign that the Brazil is taking the ‘first steps’ towards a new cycle of growth.

The data shows that although net revenues fell by 9.1 percent during the month, expenditures declined even more, by 13.6 percent. The largest expenditure reductions occurred in discretionary (non-earmarked) expenses, which fell by 50.4 percent in comparison to January of 2016. Earmarked expenses, excluding social security benefits and federal payroll, fell by 23.2 percent due to the reduction of subsidies.

To obtain the stellar surplus, however, the government significantly cut some of its most important social programs and investments.

The Temer Administration reduced expenditures with the PAC (Growth Acceleration Program), the government’s main investment program, by 80 percent in real terms compared to January 2016.

In addition expenditures with the Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My Home, My Life) housing program were cut by 87.3 percent in relation to the same month last year, when impeached President Dilma Rousseff was still in office.

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