Economy

COVID-19 investigation committee deepens the crisis between Bolsonaro and Congress and complicates the approval of the Union's budget

The creation of the Senate's investigation committee will hinder a negotiation that was already difficult and did not go ahead, analyze sources from Congress

President Jair Bolsonaro and Economy Minister Paulo Guedes
Photo: REUTERS/Adriano Machado
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  • The investigation committee put the government at a disadvantage in negotiations with Congress on the Union’s budget and intensified the political crisis among the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative;
  • The government’s idea was to reach a compromise between what Economy Minister Paulo Guedes wanted (the total veto of the proposal) and what Congress wanted;
  • The creation of the “COVID-19 investigation committee” by the Senate, however, changed everything.

The decision of the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court (STF in the acronym in Portuguese) to determine an investigation committee in the Senate to investigate a possible omission by the federal government in combating the COVID-19 pandemic put the government at a disadvantage in negotiations with Congress on the Union’s budget and intensified the political crisis among the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative.

The Union’s budget approval has become a problem for the federal government. The government’s idea was to reach a compromise between what Economy Minister Paulo Guedes wanted (the total veto of the proposal) and what Congress wanted.

READ ALSO: Brazilian Supreme Court orders Senate to investigate federal government performance in fighting pandemic

This compromise would involve vetoes by President Jair Bolsonaro and, despite reaching parliamentary amendments, a viable alternative seemed to be emerging for the approval of the project.

The creation of the “COVID-19 investigation committee” by the Senate, however, changed everything.

“Everyone knows how an investigation committee starts, but nobody knows how it ends. The Senate gains an edge in negotiating the budget now,” an executive source told Reuters. “Furthermore, the Senate does not have a ministry in the government; it is in an internal dispute with the lower house of Congress and in another dispute with Paulo Guedes.”

READ ALSO: In Brazil and Mexico, populist presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Lopez Obrador confound investors

The creation of the Senate’s investigation committee will hinder a negotiation that was already difficult and did not go ahead, analyze sources from Congress.

President Jair Bolsonaro’s reaction to the decision of supreme court minister Luís Roberto Barroso was the worst possible. Yesterday morning, in conversation with supporters, the president said that the minister lacked “moral courage” and that there was “judicial activism” and “politicking”.

These events only worsen a situation that was no longer good. At Planalto, it is clear that Paulo Guedes’ speeches and the minister’s accusations put an end to any capacity for dialogue between him and the parliamentarians.

It remains to be seen what the impact of all this will be on the approval of the Union’s budget.

The crisis with the Supreme

In an exclusive interview with Valor Econômico, the Civil House’s Minister Luiz Eduardo Ramos criticized the Senate investigation committee and said that the objective of the commission is only to expose the president.

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Unlike Bolsonaro, Ramos avoided direct attacks on STF minister Luís Roberto Barroso. “You have to comply Court decision. This is sacred,” he said to journalist Fabio Murakawa.

However, the minister was clear in saying that states and municipalities would have equal responsibility for any errors in combating the pandemic. “If the investigation committee is looking for mistakes made in the fight against COVID-19, it cannot go only over the Union,” he said.

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