Bolsonaro speeds up payments to the poor as election looms Read more
“We have a government of laws, not of men”, said the former president, who won last May in a spectacular surprise that lifted him to the top of a fractured political world. “It is time to clean up Brasília and turn the state capital into a modern, transparent and efficient government.”
The new law, which has been in the pipeline for months, gives a greater role to public servants – from the state prosecutors’ office to the electoral council – in enforcing public spending, and strengthens the independence of the supreme court.
But the changes to the Constitution, or Código do Bonfim, are not yet reflected in the real world. In fact, they are almost all aimed at changing Brazil’s business-friendly fiscal regime, including the government’s plans for a large increase in public spending, which are being implemented.
The new law gives the treasury discretionary powers to raise borrowing with the approval of congress, which has the power to block them. The new law also gives more authority to the state treasury and the public prosecutors’ office to collect fines, without needing to go before the supreme court, giving them a new role in the justice system.
The plan for a huge increase in spending, which the former president has been championing since he became president, is in a way a product of this new law, which gives the treasury more power to raise money without going before congress.
Brazil is the third largest recipient of public money in the world after the US and the United Kingdom, and the government is facing a $5tn (£3-4tn) deficit, a problem it is aiming to solve by pumping as much money into the economy as the private sector can afford.
The new law will let the treasury borrow to spend beyond its current level of reserves and, in theory, to maintain stable public finances.
However, the problem is that the new law is not implemented, and much of the money that is being planned to be spent by the government is likely to end up in private pockets.
“What is new in law is not always implemented in reality,” said the finance minister, Paulo Guedes, on