November 12, 2019 / 3:02 PM / a month ago

Brazil's Bolsonaro absent as Congress ratifies pension reform

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends the launch of the Green and Yellow program to create formal jobs for young people, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s Congress officially ratified the government’s landmark social security reform bill into law on Tuesday, in a ceremony notable for the absence of President Jair Bolsonaro.

The radical overhaul of Brazil’s costly pension system was the Bolsonaro government’s No. 1 economic reform priority this year, and its approval was its main economic success too.

But analysts say Bolsonaro was never fully committed to the plan, which was backed more forcibly by Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and whose passage through Congress was largely down to the political skills of lower house president Rodrigo Maia.

The constitutional amendment will save the public purse around 800 billion reais ($192 billion) over the next decade, according to Economy Ministry calculations, down from the original estimated savings of around 1.3 trillion reais.

Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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