Brazil's Senate, Rousseff to propose market-friendly agenda

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and leading senators plan to introduce an agenda of market-friendly proposals this week, in a move one senior official said was aimed at countering a revolt by lower chamber lawmakers.

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The “Brazil Agenda” put forward by Senate President Renan Calheiros was discussed at a dinner Rousseff hosted for senators from her coalition on Monday as she looks to rekindle economic growth and overcome a major political crisis.

The conversation suggests a rapprochement between Rousseff and Calheiros, whose ties had been strained because of the senator's outrage at being investigated for alleged involvement in a corruption scandal at state-run oil firm Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.SA.

A senior official in Rousseff’s cabinet said the “positive” dialogue with the Senate leader was designed to counter the aggressive opposition of the speaker of the lower chamber, Eduardo Cunha, since his recent defection to the other side of the floor.

It also could help her fend off a potential impeachment attempt over a corruption scandal and a probe into government accounting practices.

“Many of Renan’s proposals fully coincide with our own,” Rousseff said during an event on energy investments. “They show on the part of the Senate an inclination to help Brazil find a way out of its difficulties as fast as possible.”

Cunha reacted angrily to the Senate agenda and said any attempt to isolate the lower chamber countered the constitution. “It won’t fly, it’s a dumb move,” he told reporters.

Many of the proposals are likely to draw opposition within Rousseff’s own Workers’ Party too. Among them are regulating outsourced labor, raising inheritance taxes and introducing paid services in Brazil’s government-provided healthcare system.

The final list of proposals will be ready on Wednesday or Thursday, Senator Romero Juca, an influential senator from the PMDB party, said by Twitter.

The 27 measures fall into three areas: business and infrastructure, fiscal discipline, and social protection.

They also include raising the retirement age and fast-tracking environmental licensing for infrastructure projects.

“This is a contribution from the National Congress, based on its independence,” Calheiros said on Monday.

The government’s majority leader in the lower House, Jose Guimaraes of the Workers Party, said he was open to talking about the proposals.

“It’s important at a moment like this,” he said, “that the House has a dialog with the country and not just keep voting the programs that were already on the agenda but also adding a positive agenda for the country.”

Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Lisa Von Ahn and Alan Crosby