By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, asked cabinet ministers to maintain strict control over government spending and combat corruption, during a meeting with her new cabinet members on Tuesday, January 27th. This is Rousseff’s first cabinet meeting since she started her second term in office, on January 1st.
“The restrictions will require more efficient spending, a task which I am certain you will undertake with excellence. Let’s do more, spending less,” the President stated. Rousseff has already announced spending cuts in most ministries to try to bring the country out of its economic slump.
Among the government’s plans to jump-start the economy is the increase of concessions to the private sector in the road, ports and airports segments. The President also noted that other transport segments, such as waterways, would be opened to private concessions.
As for corruption scandals which undermined her first term in office, Rousseff told her team to be merciless. “I expect all of you to deal firmly with any and all signs of illicit use of public money in the areas under your command,” said the President.
Rousseff stated further that the Executive Office is sending a proposal to Congress next month on five measures to be taken to improve the process of combating corruption. The measures were announced during her presidential campaign in 2014. “We defend a national pact against corruption which involves all segments of the government, of power and both in the public sphere as well as in the private sphere. We will be unyielding in the combat against the corruptors and the corrupted,” she added.
Rousseff once again defended state-run oil giant, Petrobras, which is in the middle of the biggest corruption scandal of its existence. The President said that investigations must be rigorous and punishment to those found guilty of wrongdoing, severe.
Rousseff, however, urged the country to continue to ‘believe’ in the company which best represents Brazil. “The companies must be preserved. The guilty persons are the ones who must be punished. We should not destroy the companies. The companies are essential for Brazil,” she said, adding that closing the door on corruption does not mean closing the door on growth, progress and employment.
Rousseff also asked her cabinet to react to rumors and divulge the government’s position to the public. “We should face the unknown, the disinformation, always and permanently,” she told her 39 cabinet members.
The President told her subordinates to speak more, show the public the challenges faced by the government and divulge the administration’s initiatives and successes. She urged her team to show “each Brazilian citizen that we have not altered one millimeter of our commitments.”
“We cannot allow a false version [of facts] to be created and spread. React to the rumors. We should be clear and precise. We should make ourselves be understood. We can not leave doubts,” concluded the President.