By Richard Mann, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President Jair Bolsonaro admitted that the government has struggled to build a base in Congress sufficient to pass the proposed pension reform, and said he believes he does not yet have the 308 votes in the Chamber that are required to pass the proposed amendment to the Constitution (PEC), but said that “undecided deputies are coming around”.
According to Bolsonaro, although “a minority” of deputies are opposed to changes in retirement rules, political attrition is hindering the project’s efforts to gain more significant support.
“Governors say they want to approve the reform, but they are having difficulty with their state delegations,” said the president in an interview given to ‘Programa do Ratinho,’ shown on Tuesday, June 4th.
Asked if the project has been “lengthy,” Bolsonaro stressed that the Chamber is complying with the procedural deadlines, despite the “noise,” and emphasized that he is available to discuss the reform in Parliament.
In a conversation with Ratinho, the president also said he was confident that the approval of the Social Security reform would unlock investments in Brazil. “By showing we’ve done our homework, the appeal will come through.”
During the show, Bolsonaro and the presenter sought to highlight the benefits for workers intended by the reform and to clarify the population’s concerns regarding the project.
They also addressed arguments commonly used to refute the need for reform, such as companies’ debt to Social Security. “We are working in this direction (to charge the companies),” said Bolsonaro, citing legal measures.
Although the Social Welfare agenda was predominant, the president also commented on other administration proposals. He reaffirmed the intent to cut funds for NGOs that are not “well-intentioned,” such as those that “feed the Landless Movement (MST).” “In the Amazon, there are more NGOs than Indians,” he said.
Regarding public safety, Bolsonaro advocated for the decrees on possession and carrying of firearms issued by his government.
Questioned on the issue of excluding criminal liability for law enforcers, contained in Minister Sergio Moro’s anti-crime project, Bolsonaro replied that “if we put a weapon in the hands of the state police, it is to be used. If not, then leave them at home!”, he added.