Brazil’s Reform Agenda Is Moving Forward, House Speaker Says

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s Congress is likely to tackle everything from a byzantine tax system to a government spending cap before July, when local election campaigns redefine legislative priorities.

So says Lower House Speaker Rodrigo Maia, who’s helping push the economic reform agenda of President Jair Bolsonaro forward after successfully overhauling a burdensome pension system earlier this year. Proposals also include a change in the law on basic sanitation that could unlock billions in infrastructure investments and a bill to grant the country’s central bank formal independence, he said.

Brazil’s Reform Agenda Is Moving Forward, House Speaker Says

“Such proposals strengthen the legislature,” Maia, 49, said Friday in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “We have a reformist Congress.”

Maia said there is a consensus building within Bolsonaro’s economic team on the terms of a controversial tax system overhaul, which is likely to reinstate taxation on earnings dividends. The congressman said he speaks at least twice a week with Finance Minister Paulo Guedes to discuss the reform agenda, and that he has a great working relationship with Bolsonaro after a series of clashes between the two earlier this year.

Last week, the president, accompanied by Guedes, personally delivered a set of bills aimed at capping public spending, including the so-called “golden rule” establishing that budget deficits must not exceed investment. The package also included proposals to cut payroll expenditures of the country’s civil service. Most of those proposals should face little opposition among congressmen, he said.

“I don’t see reasons for that not to be approved by July,” Maia said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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