BRAZIL POLITICS: Temer Urges Business as Usual After Massive Bribery Probe

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By Politicoscope April 14, 2017 01:00

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“We can never paralyze the government,” Temer said at an event in the capital Brasilia. “If we aren’t careful, it will seem Brazil’s institutions don’t work, which is not the case.”

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BRAZIL POLITICS: Temer Urges Business as Usual After Massive Bribery Probe

Brazil’s President Michel Temer urged lawmakers on Wednesday to push ahead with business as usual, a day after a Supreme Court justice ordered corruption probes into 98 politicians, including leading legislators and a third of his cabinet.

Temer avoided commenting on the unprecedented wave of investigations triggered by plea bargain testimony from executives at engineering group Odebrecht, but he made clear the government was committed to implementing its ambitious reform agenda, which includes an overhaul of Brazil’s creaking pension system.

“We can never paralyze the government,” Temer said at an event in the capital Brasilia. “If we aren’t careful, it will seem Brazil’s institutions don’t work, which is not the case.”

The investigation of eight government ministers, the heads of both chambers of Congress and dozens of senior lawmakers is the greatest challenge to date for Temer, an unpopular president struggling to stabilize Brazil’s debt and end a deep recession.

The president has said he will suspend any ministers charged with corruption, but it may take months before prosecutors bring charges, given the stack of new cases landing on their desks.

That may give Temer enough time to pass reforms.

Brazil’s Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Marcos Pereira speaks with Brazil’s President Michel Temer during a ceremony at the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

According to analysts at political consultancy Eurasia Group, the probes are likely to delay rather than derail Temer’s pension overhaul, a cornerstone of the program he is pushing through Congress to shore up government accounts.

Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles told Reuters in a phone interview on Wednesday that he continues to expect the reform to be approved in the first half of the year and that even if it were to slip to August it would not be a “huge drama.”

Brazil’s benchmark Bovespa stock index slipped 0.5 percent on Wednesday morning before paring losses to 0.2 percent, while the local currency was little changed against the U.S. dollar.

2018 ELECTION
The largest fallout may be experienced during next year’s election, with major parties seemingly without many untarnished names to put forward as candidates, increasing the possibility of a successful run by an outsider.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva currently leads polls for the 2018 presidential election and it remains to be seen if further investigations into the former president will dent his popularity.

Supreme Court Justice Luiz Edson Fachin on Tuesday passed to lower courts six investigations into the veteran leftist politician based on testimony from former Odebrecht executives.

Lula, speaking at a Workers Party rally in Sao Paulo as the list of politicians under investigation became public late on Tuesday, was upbeat. “In all the polls I’m in front,” he told the crowd to huge applause.

After more than three years of mounting corruption probes into political kickbacks for contracts at state-run companies, police and prosecutors have jailed dozens of business leaders and convinced many to provide evidence against elected allies.

The probes threaten several of Temer’s closest confidants, including chief of staff Eliseu Padilha, who has played a key role in pushing unpopular austerity measures through Congress.

Temer’s ministers of foreign affairs, trade and agriculture also are under investigation, as well as former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Dilma Rousseff, in addition to Lula. All of those under investigation have denied wrongdoing.

Fachin also opened four investigations into the payment of bribes to foreign politicians, opening further avenues for the broadening investigation to pursue. The names of the countries remained under seal.

– Reuters


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Politicoscope
By Politicoscope April 14, 2017 01:00

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Since You’re Here, We Would Like to ask You for Help

There are more readers worldwide reading the Politicoscope daily news content than ever before. Unlike many other news media organisations that charge their readers subscription fees for the same daily news content and features we offer you for free, we do not charge all our readers to pay any fee. We depend on online advertising to generate the revenues to fund all these great news content and exclusive features provided to you for free. Currently, advertising revenues are quickly falling which is affecting our ability to offer you free online news content.
If everyone who reads our news content, likes it and helps to support it, we can have future guarantee to offer you with the best daily news content and other amazing features, all for free.
"I visit Politicoscope everyday to read my daily news in world politics. I'm glad it's all for free. On my part, I'm happy to donate monthly so as to continue enjoying these free content because it's actually a small amount from me compared to paid subscriptions by other news organisations. I want to help Politicoscope grow more so that I and other readers can continue to have access to free and exclusive daily online news." - Denise H., from LA, USA.
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