The Brazilian Congress officially went into recess. This recess is in the constitution where it says the dates are from July 18 to August 2, except when July 17, the last working day, falls on a holiday or weekend (which happened this year).
Over the next 12 days deputies and senators cannot vote anything. Committee work is also at a standstill. However, there is a representative commission for emergencies, consisting of 17 members, chaired by the president of the Senate, José Sarney (PMDB-AP), which can approve funds for a catastrophe, for example.
In some kind of a truly national disaster, the commission can call Congress back to work.
Before the recess, the leaders of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate reached an agreement for an election year calendar. After the recess, members will have a special regime.
There will be sessions for votes during the first week of August and the first week of September. Decisions as to what will be voted will be made in special meetings known as concentrated effort.
The rest of the time is for campaigning for the general elections on October 3.
In the Senate, two-thirds of the seats are up for grabs (there are 81 senators) – with an estimated 30 senators seeking reelection. In the Chamber of Deputies, all 513 seats will be disputed, with around 420 deputies seeking reelection.
Opening the Purse
The Brazilian government announced it will loosen its purse strings and release 2.5 billion reais (US$ 1.4 billion) to ministries for discretionary spending, thus reducing the amount impounded to 26.871 billion reais (US$ 15.2 billion). The exact details of the distribution of the funds will be made public in ten days.
At the beginning of the year, the government held back or impounded around 30 billion reais (US$ 16.9 billion) in funds that were included in the 2010 budget because of what looked like an overheated economy. GDP growth forecasts by the Ministry of Planning and the Central Bank were running between 6.5% and 7.3%.
Now the government says that even with strong GDP growth and the threat of inflation it has its own spending under control and is closely watching its mandatory outlays to states and municipalities, as well as the social security deficit.
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