Brazil President Softens Pension Reform Bill to Get Congress’s Approval

    A Brazilian woman on her job

    A new version of Brazil’s unpopular pension reform bill presented this week would require fewer years of contributions by private sector workers to receive a pension, according a draft of the legislation that the government hopes will win approval in Congress.

    The new bill will require a minimum of 15 years of contributions from private sector workers, compared to 25 years in the previous draft and 15 currently. Public servants will have a 25-year minimum, and all workers will need to work 40 years to retire on full pension.

    The bill maintains the minimum retirement age of 65 years for men and 62 years for women, a key proposal for reducing the cost of Brazil’s pension system, which is the main cause of a gaping government budget deficit.

    Pension reform is the cornerstone policy in President Michel Temer’s efforts to bring the deficit under control, but he lacked the votes to get a tougher version approved by lawmakers who worried the unpopular measures would hurt their re-election chances next year.

    Temer used political capital blocking corruption charges that further undermined support for his policies and delayed a pension reform vote in Congress by six months.

    The revamped bill maintains the same retirement rules for rural workers that are in effect now, dropping proposals for tighter standards.

    In the current bill, rural workers will contribute for 15 years to get a pension, 10 years less than the government’s initial proposal. The minimum retirement age for female and male rural workers will be kept respectively at 55 and 60 years, the same as today, according to the draft.

    The government restored a guarantee that disabled or elderly people unable to support themselves would receive an additional amount so their total payment meets a monthly minimum,

    The speaker of the lower house of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, warned that the government did not have the two-thirds super majority of votes needed to pass pension reform.

    Maia said the government would work to strengthen its base first, which Temer sought to do by swearing in Alexandre Baldy to head the Ministry of Cities, a move designed to please the Progressive Party which has 40 seats in the chamber



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