Brazil government proposes 20-year spending cap to tame public debt

Alonso Soto and Maria Carolina Marcello – Reuters, 06/15/2016

Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer proposed on Wednesday a constitutional amendment to limit public spending growth for up to 20 years, one of the most far-reaching fiscal reforms in decades designed to curb a runaway rise in public debt.

Brazil’s government, including the legislative and judiciary branches, will be obliged to limit annual spending growth to the inflation rate of the prior year if the flagship reform is approved in Congress, according to a Finance Ministry statement.

The move signaled a victory for economic hardliners in the cabinet, led by Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles, who overcame calls from a faction pushing for a shorter cap.

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Michel Temer Aims to Restore Confidence in Brazil’s Economy

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 05/24/2016

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, announced an array of proposals on Tuesday aimed at restoring confidence in the sickly economy of Latin America’s largest country.

Seeking to draw a contrast with Dilma Rousseff, the suspended leftist president whom Mr. Temer maneuvered to oust this month, he said he would try to repeal nationalist oil legislation, curb public spending and shut down a sovereign wealth fund.

Still, Mr. Temer’s televised briefing was light on detail as to how he planned to win approval in a fractious Congress for an array of measures like overhauling a crisis-ridden pension system that allows Brazilians to retire at an average age of 54.

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Brazil World Cup stadiums 50 percent over budget: report

Andrew Downie – Reuters, 12/4/2014

The 12 stadiums used in this year’s soccer World Cup cost 50 percent more than planned and only six of the 35 promised public transportation projects were finished on time, according to an as yet unpublished report from Brazil’s Federal Accounts Court.

Twelve arenas were remodeled or built from scratch at a cost of 8.44 billion reais ($3.26 billion), the court said in its most thorough report on World Cup spending since the tournament ended in July. The original estimate in 2010 was 5.6 billion.

The most expensive was the redevelopment of the National Stadium in Brasilia, which cost 1.44 billion reais, nearly twice its original estimate and three times the cost of some of the arenas that were completely rebuilt.

 

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Why the U.S. Is Building a Fantastical Aquarium in Brazil

Kriston Capps – City Lab, 7/23/2014

Soon enough, Brazil will be able to boast the largest aquarium in South America. When it is completed in 2015, Acquario Ceará, a new public aquarium planned for the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza, will easily be the world’s most recognizable aquarium—an architectural statement piece if there ever was one. It may also be the most truly American project in the Western Hemisphere. While the backers of Acquario Ceará are aiming to create a new design symbol for South America, it will be almost entirely a product of North America.

The U.S. is designing, engineering, constructing, and even financing Acquario Ceará—a design showpiece meant to drive tourism in the state of Ceará after the World Cup. In what has to be a global first, a U.S. federal agency is building a blobitectural marvel on another continent in order to create jobs for small businesses at home.

The project is being designed by Leonardo Fontenele of Imagic Brasil, the Latin American division of the Cincinnati-based design firm Jack Rouse Associates. The key to the aquarium’s wild design is—plainly—the facility’s signature crustaceo-exoskeleton, which is being fabricated by Zahner, the same Kansas City, Missouri–based metals firm that executes titanium tapestries for Frank Gehry. The construction of the project is being overseen by International Concept Management, a small business and custom aquarium maker located in Grand Junction, Colorado. So, the otherworldly Acquario Ceará is basically a Midwestern export.

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Brazil is spending within its means on World Cup

Erin McCarthy – The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/2014

Despite recent frustration over Brazil’s overspending on some of its World Cup venues several of the states and cities hosting the games are expected to stay within their means when it comes to spending on the global competition.

Brazilian leaders have spoken out in recent weeks in defense of government spending on the games, arguing that many of the infrastructure projects will benefit Brazilians long after the tournament is over.

In fact, overall infrastructure spending makes up a relatively small portion of total planned investment in Latin America’s largest economy, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The roughly $11.5 billion in spending on transportation projects, stadiums and other Cup-related projects represents just 0.7% of planned investment in Brazil between 2010 to 2014.

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Labor strikes roil Brazil ahead of World Cup

Paul Kiernan & Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 5/29/2014

A series of labor strikes is roiling Brazil as public workers, emboldened by an international spotlight ahead of the World Cup and the billions of dollars the country is spending on the soccer tournament, demand significant pay raises.

In recent days, strikes by bus drivers have crippled the World Cup host cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador, while another work stoppage in the smaller city of São Luís continued on Thursday. A three-day walkout by police in Recife another tournament host, sparked public unrest and the looting of stores.

A group of teachers striking in Rio surrounded the team bus of Brazil’s national soccer squad this week, plastering it with anti-World Cup stickers and raising questions about player security.

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The World Cup is just weeks away. Here’s why Brazilians aren’t as excited as you are

Gabriela Kruschewsky – The Huffington Post, 5/22/2014

It seems like every day there’s a new report painting a grim picture of the impending FIFA World Cup that will take place in cities across Brazil next month. Stadiums and other event-related facilities such as airports aren’t completely finished. Protests are still taking place. And many Brazilians seem to be unexcited, to say the least, about the worldwide spectacle that’s due to take place in their country.

One of the biggest causes of the unrest? The unbelievably high figure Brazil has shelled out for the event… from public funds.

Neither the World Cup nor FIFA, its organizing body, are completely to blame for the frustration and indignation Brazilians feel over the looming event. Brazilians aren’t gathering in the streets to protest one of the world’s most popular sporting event itself, but are rather in the midst of a longstanding fight against the Brazilian government, which they believe has failed to deliver on promises to the people. It’s a much larger strife for the most basic and simplest of human dignities, including education, healthcare and affordable housing — many Brazilians feel the money would be better spent if invested in these social necessities.

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World Cup’s road to Brazil remains bumpy

Vincent Bevins & Kevin Baxter – The Los Angeles Times, 4/22/2014

In 50 days the best athletes in the world’s most popular sport will convene in Brazil, one of soccer’s sacred spiritual homes, for the game’s most important tournament.

It will be a powerful, uplifting tribute to the “beautiful game” that Brazilians have shaped for decades and the new status of a confident, rising global power in Latin America. Locals and foreigners will marvel at shiny new stadiums and glide across the continent-sized country on upgraded infrastructure.

That, at least, is what the government and organizers are hoping will happen given that the price tag for their six-week World Cup party is expected to top $11 billion, a figure local media estimates say is extremely conservative.


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Brazil’s anti-FIFA protests: not little, but definitely late

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 4/16/2014

As ironic as it may sound, the kingpin of FIFA World Cup soccer has managed to stage the biggest anti-FIFA protests ever.

This is Brazil, land of contrasts, where a small five cent bus fare hike last June turned into a hate fest against all that was once holy in the Land of Pele. With less than two months to go before the “beautiful game” commences in a match between Brazil and Croatia in São Paulo, millions of Brazilians want you to know that you shouldn’t come to their country to see these games. In the local and global press, word is Brazilians now hate soccer.

First some brief soccer history for American readers. Brazil is the only country not to have missed a World Cup, meaning its national teams have always won qualifying rounds every four years when the games are held. They have five World Cup championship titles and have won three in the last four decades, more than any other country. They are home to world famous footballers like Kaka, Ronaldinho and of course Pele.

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