Chipping Away at a $33 Billion Brazil Deficit One Pen at a Time

(Bloomberg) -- Things are so bad in Brasilia that even pens are on the chopping block.

For every real (27 cents) that the Brazilian government spends on stationery, it allocates twice as much on the logistics of their purchase, according to Folha de Sao Paulo. That has the Planning Ministry moving to overhaul its system to centralize the purchase of pencils and the like.

Because each government ministry can choose its supplies, Brazil buys 47 different kinds of ballpoint pens -- as well as 36 types of staplers, 47 versions of glue and more than 50 notebook variations. The government wants to reduce the total list of staplers, envelopes, etc. to 50 -- down from 1,900 today, Folha reported.

There are so many goods that are ordered each year that the government rents rooms to stock them. Minister of Planning Gleisson Rubin told Folha things are out of control. The government’s now seeking a single provider for all its needs and has issued a request for proposals.

The idea makes sense, and might end up saving 13 million reais a year, according to Folha. But that’ll make just a small dent in a fiscal deficit that totaled 125 billion reais in the 12 months through April.

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