Almost four months late, last night a joint session of the Brazilian Congress approved a budget bill for 2006. The bill now goes to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who must approve it. He can veto some items.
Approval came after a long day of hard negotiations. The government was forced to give ground on some points. The most controversial was the funding for the construction of a bridge in the state of Sergipe in the Brazilian Northeast.
Sergipe is a state governed by João Alves Filho from the Liberal Front Party (PFL), an opposition party, which the government claims has not been complying with federal accountability norms or Lei de Responsabilidade Fiscal.
The negotiations to resolve the problem included the participation of the president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros (PMDB, Alagoas), various political party leaders and the governor of Sergipe.
Three other sticking points, the construction of a gas pipeline in the Amazon (Coari – Manaus), federal funding for the 2007 Pan American games to be held in Rio de Janeiro, and, finally, an irrigation project in the state of Bahia, were all resolved in the afternoon.
As approved, the budget estimates government net revenues of 455.6 billion reais (US$ 215 billion). Expenditures will be 104 billion reais (US$ 49 billion) with payroll and related expenses; 162 billion reais (US$ 76 billion) for social security expenses; 90 billion reais (US$ 42 billion) for state entitlements; executive branch investments are to total 20 billion reais (US$ 9.4 billion): and there is to be a primary surplus of 48 billion reais (US$ 22.6 billion).