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BRAZIL’S new Acting President Michel Temer held his first cabinet meeting yesterday where it became clear that working people would bear the brunt of his economic policy.
Incoming Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, who was Central Bank governor from 2003 to 2010, served notice of his intention to “reform” the state pension system and labour laws.
Mr Meirelles said that he would tackle a system that allows some people to retire in their fifties, declaring: “Retirement must be self-sustaining over time.”
He said that the country needed to raise worker productivity “and this comes through labour law” changes.
Mr Temer declared during Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony for his 22 cabinet ministers — all white men in a country where people of colour make up over half the population — that “our biggest challenge is to staunch the process of freefall of our economy.”
He gave warning that public expenditure would be slashed.
“The sooner we are able to balance our books, the sooner we’ll be able to restart growth,” he said.
He sought peace with Dilma Rousseff, offering his “institutional respect” for the impeached president whom, as her deputy, he betrayed in league with the right-wing opposition.
“This is not a moment for celebrations, but one of profound reflection,” Mr Temer said.
“It’s urgent to pacify the nation and unify the country. It’s urgent for us to form a government of national salvation to pull this country out of the serious crisis in which we find ourselves.”
Ms Rousseff, however, vowed to fight against her suspension, calling it “a coup” led by a social and economic elite alarmed by the policies of her Workers Party, which had held office for 13 years.
She warned that the new government was planning to dismantle social programmes that benefit around a quarter of the population.
Mr Temer countered that the programmes would be maintained and “perfected” under his leadership, but Social Development Minister Osmar Terra was less sure.
“What President Michel is proposing is that those programmes be the most sheltered, but, if the budget hole is very big, we’ll have to see,” he said.
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