President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva urged his cabinet and parliamentary
allies to be patient as the government attempts to do its job. "The art
of government is the art of patience. We do not have the right to lose patience
even in moments of great adversity," said the President.
Lula spoke at a ceremony
commemorating 18 months of his administration, saying that the members of
the government had to be careful not to get too anxious. "Sometimes a
soccer player is so anxious he misses an easy goal, you know," said the
President, who frequently uses soccer metaphors. Lula added that no one should
expect his administration to do in such a short time what others were unable
to do in decades.
Lula said that one achievement
during his 18 months in government was the establishment of a healthy relationship
between the executive and legislative branches, based on the public welfare
rather than the quid pro quo wheeling and dealing of the past.
The President made it
clear that he would make regular reports on the progress of government activities.
He challenged his critics to compare the results of his government with any
Lula warned his ministers
and congressional allies that discussion of public policy should not be limited
to election seasons, pointing out that mid-term elections would take place
this October, and presidential elections at the end of 2006.
He recalled the political
cost of the debate on the minimum wage of US$ 85.90 (260 reais), saying that
the salary was so low because former administrations had allowed it to lose
so much value.
Lula said he was surprised
to see allies of the Cardoso government support a bigger minimum salary after
they spent eight years in power without allowing it to recover its purchasing
"That is an example
of when we need to keep calm. Now the fact is that the people know what is
happening and can distinguish what is real and what is false... If anyone
can recover the purchasing power of the Brazilian minimum wage it is this
President," said Lula.
At the end of his speech,
Lula urged all of the cabinet members to remain united in the effort to fulfill
the commitments in his government program. "I am certain we will keep
the campaign promises we made in order to be elected by the time we reach
the end of our term of office," he said.
How to Grow
Further growth in Brazil
is going to depend on renewed investments by the private sector, mainly domestic
corporations, declared presidential Chief of Staff, José Dirceu, speaking
at the same ceremony attended by Lula.
"It is important
to point out that even with the difficult adjustments we had to make, the
government is spending US$ 3.9 billion (12 billion reais) on essential investments
for the country, such as basic sanitation and infrastructure," said Dirceu.
These investments are
occurring gradually by the government and the private sector. He added that
the Brazilian BNDES (Banco Nacional do Desenvolvimento Econômico e SocialNational
Bank for Economic and Social Development) has been a "secure anchor"
for such projects as it increases its own investments.
One government priority
is highway repair. Dirceu reported that 2,106 kilometers of highways had been
repaired and that services had been contracted for the conservation of another
37,610 kilometers, besides the placement of signs on 12,191 kilometers of
highways. Dirceu added that work on the Transnortheast and North-South railroads
was underway again.
Through the Merchant Marine
Fund, a total of 21 vessels had been launched and construction contracts for
an additional 13 signed. The vessels will operate in Ponta da Madeira, Maranhão
state; Caravelas, in Bahia and Barra do Riacho, in Espírito Santo.
Some will be put to work for Petrobras. Dirceu also announced that work on
subways in Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador and Belo Horizonte was once again underway.
The Chief of Staff said
that one of the highlights of government investments was the rural electrification
program, Luz para Todos (Light for All), which aims to give all Brazilians
electricity by the year 2008.
The government has also
renewed construction on 16 hydroelectric power plants. "During the last
18 months we have added 5,184 MW to the country's energy grid and 5,116 kilometers
of transmission lines," he said.
Finally, the minister
said that the government is investing in digital inclusion. A service to provide
Internet access (Gesac) had set up 3,200 telecenters where 4 million people
had become users. Dirceu announced that digital TV was on its way and would
provide users with superior quality in sound and image, besides internet access.
Dirceu made a point that
"this administration does not steal, does not let anyone steal, and is
committed to combating corruption."
As for the economy, he
pointed out that the government has reduced purchases, and goods and services
contracts, by 29 percent.
"If funds are scarce,
you must spend wisely and efficiently, without waste. You spend only on the
priority needs of the country. We are spending on programs to alleviate poverty
and misery. We are spending on social and economic infrastructure," declared
Nelson Motta works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency
of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett.