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Brazil resumes last-ditch talks in Congress for pension reform
October 26, 2017 / 5:46 PM / 22 days ago

Brazil resumes last-ditch talks in Congress for pension reform

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s government will resume discussions over a proposed pension reform with party leaders in Congress in the coming days, a minister said on Thursday.

A woman waits for customers inside her shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

That comes a day after congressmen blocked a criminal charge against President Michel Temer.

“It is a matter that interests both the government and congressmen. House speaker Rodrigo Maia said yesterday he was interested in letting the pension reform move forward,” Temer’s chief of staff Eliseu Padilha told journalists.

Padilha said that Brazil could not wait until 2019 - after the next presidential election - to carry out the reforms.

Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles met Maia earlier on Thursday. After the meeting, Meirelles told journalists the government would stick with its proposal of a minimum retirement age and stricter rules for pension benefits.

Pension reform is seen by investors as a necessary measure to avoid a budget crisis in the coming years. However, many Congressional leaders and analysts have been skeptical that an administration with near-zero popularity can make sweeping changes.

“It is clear that a broad pension reform will not be approved in Congress by the Temer administration. But some changes are possible,” political analysts at Brasilia-based consultancy Arko Advice wrote in a report late on Wednesday.

Maia has commissioned studies in the lower house exploring alternatives that could potentially require a smaller majority for approval, Reuters reported earlier in the week.

The current proposal needs a supermajority of 308 votes of 513 congressmen to pass the lower house. Temer won just 251 votes in his favor against the criminal charge on Wednesday.

Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello and Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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