President Temer has increased the number of national budget amendments ahead of parliament’s approval of the next year’s budgets. The draft budgets of each federal department are due in the coming months. Budgets may be submitted with amendments, but reports speculate that this could be Temer’s way of trying to gain favor.
Amendments are changes to the national budget, presented to Congress along with a draft budget. The procedure should add more transparency to how Brazil’s government builds its federal budgets. Advocates say they help parliamentarians to allocate their budgets more efficiently.
Within the first five months of 2017, the government released 959 million BRL in amendments, paid to deputies and senators. But shortly after corruption scandals severely implicated Michel Temer, the Brazilian president drastically increased the number of amendments.
Temer authorized amendments equal to the value of 529 million BRL in June alone. This brings the total accumulated by amendments to almost one and a half billion BRL in 2017 so far.
Looking for support
Temer is currently trying to push through his remaining austerity reforms. However, since the JBS scandal hit in May, Congress’s support for the Brazilian President has fallen sharply. A few days before the JBS tapes surfaced, Temer’s total was 531.5 million BRL.
As Brazil’s economy wobbles and his political position becomes more precarious, Temer’s timing brings this move under suspicion. He now has a single-digit public approval rating, and there are even question marks as to whether his own party will support reforms.
Temer is now looking for votes to help him reject Federal Supreme Court (STF) authorization to investigate him for corruption. Attorney General Rodrigo Janot formally accused Temer last week. Now, the Brazilian President needs to ensure that the STF does not get the 342 votes it would need from Congress to investigate him.
Why national budget amendments are controversial
Parliamentary amendments have always been controversial. A government can freely carry out amendments, defining which resources will be released and when.
Consequently, governments release parliamentary amendments when it needs legislative support to approve projects. Amendments became bargaining chips traded between Brazil’s government and its executive and legislative powers.
Temer has been selective in the recipients of his amendments, provoking further suspicion. Rodrigo Pacheco is in charge of the body which will give an opinion on whether the STF should judge Temer. However, Pacheco also received 2.7 million BRL in parliamentary amendments.
Another big winner from Temer’s amendments is Speaker of the House Rodrigo Maia, who received 3 million BRL. Temer’s parliamentary adjustments also gave 9.6 million BRL to Senator José Serra, and 9.4 million BRL to Senator Marta Suplicy.