The coronavirus pandemic is weakening Brazilian state protection for the Amazon rainforest and its people ahead of this year’s fire season, according to indigenous communities and international NGOs. Fewer law enforcement officials are going out into the field and monitoring missions are being scaled back, opening the door for more land invasions and forest clearance, they warn.
Supreme Federal Court (STF), authorized the allocation of 1.6 billion reais ($ 320 million) of a fund of resources recovered by the Lava Jato operation for actions to contain, combat and mitigate the new coronavirus, as the disease advances across the country. The Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the Union agreed with the proposal, due to the significance of the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government decided to compensate part of the income of workers who may have their wages reduced due to the coronavirus crisis. The measure aims to help workers who may have their income cut in half at this time of economic slowdown. The payment must be released for three or four months and can benefit up to 11 million people. Therefore, it should cost R$ 10 billion ($2 billion) to the Workers’ Support Fund (FAT).
The coronavirus pandemic led IBGE to postpone the completion of the Demographic Census that would begin in August. Part of the funds will be transferred to the Ministry of Health for actions to deal with the health crisis. The original plan foresaw expenses of R$ 3.4 billion ($ 680 million), but the president of IBGE determined a cut of 25% of the amount for the research that will be transferred by the Ministry of Health.
According to the government, R$ 147.3 billion ($28 billion) will be used in emergency actions to help the most vulnerable sectors of the economy and groups of citizens, in addition to preventing high unemployment. Companies will be able to postpone, in three months, the payment of Simples Nacional and the deposit of the Guarantee Fund for Length of Service (FGTS). Contributions to Sistema S will be cut in half, and it will be easier to renegotiate credit and receive external inputs.
Expecting the impact of the coronavirus on inflation, the Brazilian Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (Copom) will hold, on Tuesday (17), the second meeting of the year to define the rate Selic, currently at 4.25% per year. The spread of the disease and the instability of the financial market in the last week have led to uncertainty about the fate of basic interest rates in the economy. At the beginning of last week, most of the financial institutions consulted by the Central Bank’s bulletin predicted the maintenance of the Selic, which is at the lowest level in history.
President Jair Bolsonaro announced this afternoon (12) that he will allocate R$ 5 billion ($ 1 billion to fight the coronavirus in Brazil. He said he will sign a Provisional Measure tomorrow, Friday (13) authorizing the action. Bolsonaro cited the Brazilian stock market crash, which plunged 14.78% in the afternoon after two temporary stops, known as “circuit breakers”, and said that the country has a locked budget.
Congress in Brazil maintains sanctions over $6.7 billion of the budget. An agreement was signed that, in addition to the loss of Congress power over this amount, R$15 billion ($3 billion) will be returned to the government. The rest will remain under the command of the congressmen, but under more lenient rules.
Condemned of money laundering and imprisoned at home, former governor Paulo Maluf transferred funds that came out of public works and ended up in shares of his family’s company, Eucatex. An international collection action by the Municipality of São Paulo to recover about $230 million attributed to Paulo Maluf will result in the auction of almost half of the shares of Eucatex, a flooring and laminates company of the former governor’s family.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its 2020 Brazilian economic growth outlook to 1.9% from 2.2%, and JP Morgan to 1.8% from 1.9%. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and other officials have consistently said the government’s economic reforms and record low interest rates will deliver growth this year comfortably above 2%, with Guedes confident of 2.5%. JP Morgan said investment growth this year will now be lower at 5.0%, while exports will fall 0.5% compared with an earlier forecast of 0.5% expansion.