By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Government officials are celebrating a poll taken recently which shows that approximately 44 percent of Brazilians interviewed are against the current social security reform bill being discussed in Congress. According to officials this is the first time less than half of Brazilians are against the retirement rule changes proposed by the government.
“People are increasingly convinced that the reform will end the privileges of those who earn a lot and work little, as well as guarantee investments in health and education,” said the President’s General Secretary, Wellington Moreira Franco on his social media page.
According to Moreira Franco the survey conducted by Ibope also showed that interviewees believe that social security rules should be the same for civil servants and those in the private sector. “Equality of rights for all. We continue in the fight against privileges, for the sake of Brazil and Brazilians,” concluded the official.
Since it was announced in December of 2016, President Temer proposed social security reform bill has received heavy opposition from workers’ unions, which brought thousands to the street to protest the bill. Temer’s cabinet members and allies, meanwhile, have been rallying lawmakers to approve what they believe to be one of the most important economic reforms to put Brazil onto a sustainable development path.
Finance Minister, Henrique Meirelles, told participants at the Latin America Investment Conference in São Paulo on Tuesday that the current welfare regime is unfair. “It is becoming clearer and clearer that the current system of social security in Brazil is an unjust system and that what is being proposed, the new Social Security, is a system that establishes greater justice, greater equity among all.”
Meirelles also pointed out the heavy social security expenditures have on the overall government budget. “57 percent of the total (2017) budget was welfare spending. That is unsustainable. The social security deficit is higher than the total (central) government deficit,” said the Minister, adding that the tendency is for this expenditure to grow, and in a few years ‘there will be no money for education, for health, for security’.
On Monday the government announced that although the 2017 primary deficit was much lower than expected (R$124 billion instead of R$159 billion), expenditures with social security increased 6.1 percent above inflation.
Congressional representatives are expected to return to work next week and discussions about the social security reform are scheduled to begin in the Chamber of Deputies on February 5th.