Key Brazil politicians say pension reform bill short votes needed for passage

Key Brazil politicians say pension reform bill short votes needed for passage

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Two key Brazil politicians said on Friday that President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration was not yet able to win the votes in Congress necessary to pass a pension reform bill that would curb federal budget deficits by slashing public spending.

Brazil’s Senate president, Davi Alcolumbre, said on Friday that Bolsonaro did not have enough votes to pass the measure, which his government says will save 1 trillion reais ($267 billion) over a decade.

The bill is the cornerstone of the far-right president’s effort to close what most economists call an unsustainable public deficit.

Waldir Oliveira, the head of Bolsonaro’s own PSL party in the lower house, said on Friday that the bill would not pass Brazil’s lower chamber unless a proposal to reform military pensions was also included.

The current proposal reforms the public pension system without addressing military personnel – though Bolsonaro’s economic team said it would soon present changes for the military.

Brazil’s social security shortfall widened 7 percent last year to 195.2 billion reais, the biggest factor by far in Brazil’s budget deficit.

The pension deficit, including private- and public-sector employees and military personnel, is expected to top 300 billion reais this year, more than 4 percent of gross domestic product.

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