By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Finance Minister of Brazil, Henrique Meirelles, said that if the pension reform is not approved by Congress this year, it will more difficult to pass by lawmakers next year, an election year. According to Meirelles the country needs the reform to be able to decrease the government’s burden of social security benefits.

Brazil,Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles on Wednesday talking about reforms,
Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles on Wednesday talking about reforms, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil.

“If the pension reform is not approved, in ten years eighty percent of the Union’s budget will be used solely for the payment of social security, and this percentage will continue to rise in the following years until there will be no more resources for security,” stressed Meirelles on Wednesday.

According to Meirelles, to make it easier to be approved, the government has agreed to remove some of the more controversial points of the bill, such as the minimum contribution time.

“The minimum contribution time in the original proposal was twenty-five years, but now it’s going to be fifteen,” said the official, adding, “But whoever contributes for fifteen years and reaches the minimum age will receive 60 percent of the retirement ceiling,” he stated.

The government of President Michel Temer has been trying to pass the social security bill for over a year now and on Wednesday night the President himself invited 300 House representatives to dinner to try to convince them to approve the bill.

According to local news reports, only about 180 lawmakers attended the dinner, strengthening the notion that the approval of the bill may be more difficult than earlier expected by the Administration.

The bill, submitted by Temer’s government last December, has not only been rejected by a good part of lawmakers, it has also received strong criticism from workers union that claim that the lower classes of Brazilian society would be the ones most hurt by these reforms.

Since the reform was introduced in Congress, there have been several nationwide protests led by union groups which have taken thousands to the streets to demonstrate against the bill.

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