Brazil's Bolsonaro opposes pension vote this year if elected: aide

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro does not want a bill to overhaul Brazil’s costly pension system to be put to the vote in Congress this year because he would send it back to the drawing board if elected, a close political aide said.

Jair Bolsonaro, far-right lawmaker and presidential candidate of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), arrives to cast his vote in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 7, 2018. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File Photo

Pension reform is crucial for any effort to reduce Brazil’s gaping budget deficit and out-going President Michel Temer has hoped his plan could be approved before he hands over to a successor on Jan. 1.

But Onyx Lorenzoni, who is slated to become Bolsonaro’s chief of staff if the former Army captain wins a run-off later this month, said on Tuesday that Temer’s proposal should be dropped and a new plan drawn up.

“Jair did not support that reform proposal, nor did I, nor did most of the people who back Bolsonaro, because it is a bad proposal, it is a piece of filth that resolves nothing,” Lorenzoni told reporters.

His comments added to concerns about contradictions emerging in Bolsonaro’s team of advisors on how to handle key issues such as pension reform, which investors see as top priority for the next government to bring an unsustainable deficit under control.

Bolsonaro, a conservative congressman favored by financial markets, fell just short of an outright majority in Sunday’s election. He will face leftist Fernando Haddad, a former Sao Paulo mayor, in a second round ballot on Oct. 28

Bolsonaro’s chief economic advisor Paulo Guedes, a free-market University of Chicago-trained economist, has a plan similar to Temer’s that would get Brazilians to contribute more to the pension system by introducing a minimum retirement age.

Yet another close aide to Bolsonaro, former military police Major Olimpio Gomes, a Congressman who won a Senate seat on Sunday, has opposed pension reform outright. He called the current proposal in Congress an “exterminating” bill.

Conflicting statements on whether to re-introduce a loathed tax on financial transactions called the CPMF or to abolish a 13th monthly salary bonus paid every year to employees in Brazil have shown that Bolsonaro has yet to come up with a coherent economic program.

While his economic guru Guedes wants to zero the budget deficit in a year or two, Bolsonaro went on national television on Monday night promising to cut income taxes and offer payroll tax breaks for companies.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Anthony Boadle