It’s the middle of April and Brazil still does not have a 2006 budget as a draft budget bill remains without a Congressional vote. Last week the government announced it was emitting temporary measures (medidas provisórias) MPs) to gain access to funding.
The leader of the PSDB in the Senate, Arthur Virgílio, has come out strongly against the use by the government of temporary measures for state-run enterprise spending and the financing of government programs.
Virgílio denied that the opposition was holding up a vote on the budget. "We are anxiously waiting for the vote. The opposition is not to blame for the delay. That must be clear," said the senator.
The president of the Brazilian Congress, senator Renan Calheiros (PMDB, Alagoas state), has scheduled a vote on the 2006 budget for 11:00 am today.
"The budget has to be voted on. There is no reason for further delay. There are only a few small details to be worked out. If we cannot reach a consensus, we will just decide the thing by a vote," said Calheiros.
In order to ensure a quorum for the vote, Calheiros announced he has contacted party leaders and ordered them to mobilize their members.
The government and the opposition in Congress have reached an agreement on one sticking point in the 2006 budget negotiations, which means that only four problems remain.
According to the man who is steering the budget through Congress, deputy Carlito Merss (PT, Santa Catarina), an agreement has been reached on the Kandir Law, which compensates states for tax exemptions (the ICMS tax) given to exporters.
After intense negotiations involving states, the executive branch and the legislature, it was decided states will receive an additional R$ 5.2 billion (US$ 2.4 billion), which will come out of the federal government’s appropriations.
The opposition (PFL and PSDB) still have four other demands they want met before voting on the budget. They are: more funding for the Coari-Manaus gas pipeline; more money for an irrigation project in the state of Bahia; more money for the state of Sergipe; and more funding for the 2007 Pan American games that will take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
It should be pointed out that the states mentioned above, Bahia and Sergipe, and the city of Rio de Janeiro, are governed by the PFL.
"If those issues can be resolved, we will vote the budget," declared senator Arthur Virgílio, (PSDB, Amazonas), an opposition leader in the Senate.
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