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Brazzil - Politics - August 2003
 

Brazil: Lula Decries Crazy Tax War

In reopening the Superintendency of the Development of the Amazon
(Sudam) President Lula scolded former President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso. According to Lula, Cardoso's decision
to abolish Sudam due to corruption makes as much sense as the
Pope closing all churches because he caught a priest stealing.

AB

 

The session to reinaugurate the Superintendency of the Development of the Amazon (Sudam) ended up providing an opportunity for President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to defend tax reform. After he heard the representative of governors from the North criticize the proposal presented to Congress, Lula reacted.

Standing alongside the nine governors from the region, he recalled that the document submitted on April 30 to the National Congress was the result of an agreement signed with the country's 27 governors. "The tax reform proposal is not the President's alone. It was signed by me and the 27 governors. This doesn't mean that there is nothing to correct. There is. The process is dynamic, and there are enormous differences among regions." Lula affirmed.

The President pointed out that, three months after the proposals were submitted to Congress, the Social Security reform was approved. In Lula's view, other Presidents were unable to accomplish this, perhaps for lack of political art, rather than incompetence. "People who attain the Presidency think that they no longer need anyone else and that they can do what they want with the country. I learned that a good conversation is the way to achieve what you want," he commented, in a subtle response to recent criticisms made by ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
As for the criticisms made by governors who want a bigger slice of the tax pie in the reform proposal, the President said that this will come about in "a much fairer" way, when the economy starts to grow again. Neither was Lula unsparing in his criticisms of his predecessors. He said that he took over the country in an awful state at the beginning of the year and that, "with God's help," he was able to prevent inflation from returning to astronomical indexes.

The President stated that he is willing to negotiate with the governors, but he underscored that the country cannot continue to wage "a hallucinated and crazy tax war," as in the past.

Specifically with reference to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Lula said that the ex-President's decision to abolish Sudam was a mistake. In Lula's opinion, corrupt government officials should be arrested and investigated, rather than abolishing the agency. "It would be the same as if the Pope closed the churches, if he caught a priest stealing," Lula remarked.
According to Lula, many ex-Presidents ended up conceiving of Brazil "from one election to the next," not on the basis of concrete proposals for the country. "It is no longer sufficient to govern this country thinking in terms of the next election. We have to consider the next generation and invest in education and health. This is a commitment that I shall not relinquish," Lula emphasized.

The President said that it was in this spirit that he decided to submit the Social Security reform bill to Congress, since "all the states were broke and would not be able to pay salaries over the next five years." And he concluded: "I wasn't thinking of my re-election."

With regard to the Central Bank's decision to reduce the prime interest rate by 2.5 percent, the President allowed himself a discrete commemoration. "Previously, the reductions were slower than some people imagined. Yesterday, they were faster than other people wanted," he pointed out. In the President's assessment, "Brazil can no longer afford to do things lightly."
In his view, a serious proposal for the country should take regional inequalities and strategic planning into account. Sudam represents a start in this direction, according to the President. "What we are doing today is the resumption of regional development. This represents a profound change in the government's methods and actions," Lula summed up.

Tax Reform

Northeastern region governors and deputies will begin discussions on the political aspects of tax reform next Wednesday, August 27. According to the coordinator of the parliamentary group. deputy Roberto Pessoa (PFL-CE), a total of 175 congressional members will attend. The idea is to hold conversations with governors, who are reported to be unsatisfied with the tax reform bill. There will also be an attempt to extend the talks to include governors and members of congress from the North and Central-West regions.

 

This article was prepared by Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lucas@radiobras.gov.br

 









 
 
 







 



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