Brazil has a series of special rules for elections (the country even has a separate court system for them – the Superior Election Court (TSE)). Among the election rules is one that prohibits the government from beginning new spending programs during a certain period before elections.
This year general elections will take place in October and the cutoff date for government spending programs is June. Under normal circumstances the government would be spending money as per its budget. However, that is not the case in Brazil at the moment for the simple reason that no budget for 2006 has been approved by Congress.
The man who is steering the government budget bill through Congress, deputy Carlito Merss (PT, Santa Catarina state), says that the delay means that even with quick approval (he thinks that could happen next week – after the Easter holiday), the government will only have two months, May and June, to draw up contracts with states and local authorities and get to work.
"With passage of its budget, the government will have only two months to administer its spending plans. The delay is harming the people, municipalities, civil associations, the states. There is no way the government can spend money in an election period (that is, after June)," laments Merss.
The deputy goes on to say that he thinks it is normal for the government to be operating on a day-to-day basis by means of temporary presidential decrees (Medidas Provisórias). And he accuses the opposition of not voting on the budget in order to hinder the government.