Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was sworn in yesterday, January 1st, for his second term as president of Brazil. He is going to remain in power for another four years.
In his address, at the Brazilian National Congress, in Brazilian capital Brasília, Lula stated that the focus of his second term in office should be the acceleration of economic growth of the country and the reduction of social inequality, mainly through education.
"I want to ask, today, for new routes to be opened, with great emphasis, speed, daring, courage and creativity," he said to ministers, parliament members, diplomats and those invited to the ceremony.
In Lula’s evaluation, during his first four years in office, Brazil reached favorable conditions with low inflation, growth in exports, monetary stability, lower external vulnerability, access to new markets, improvement in the profile of public debts, fiscal equilibrium, access to new technologies, expansion of the domestic market, with increases in popular consumption and credit and growth of employment and of worker income.
The president pointed out, however, that there is still much to be done. When pointing out what changed and what remains the same as it was four years ago, he stated that "Brazil is, unfortunately, still the same regarding the injustice against poorer layers of the population," despite having presented advances in the elimination of hunger, in the reduction of inequality, in levels of employment and, especially, in the effects of the Bolsa Família program, the federal government program that distributes income.
"Governing for all is my route, but defending the interests of the poorest is what guides me in this route," he pointed out.
Regarding economic growth, which in 2006 was below the government’s expectations, Lula stated that "the verbs that are going to guide Brazil over the next four years" are going to be "accelerate", "grow" and "include". "The effects of the changes must be felt fast and broadly. We are going to remove bottlenecks from Brazil to grow and speed up inclusion," he declared.
In this respect, he pointed out the need for a broad and balanced combination between public and private investment, without forgetting the government’s fiscal responsibility. "This means expanding and speeding up public investment, reducing costs and providing incentives to private investment," he said.
To reach this objective, Lula stated that in January a package of measures, named Package for Speeding up Growth, will be released. The guidelines for the package will be the realignment of priorities, optimization of resources, expansion of financing sources, expansion of infrastructure projects, improvement of regulators, expansion of dialogue between control institutions and inspection to guarantee transparency and grant greater agility to projects.
Among the priorities will be the supply of electricity, which, according to Lula, will be guaranteed for the coming 10 years with projects to be tendered in 2007, bioenergy, incentives to company productivity with the simplification of import of equipment, improvements in the tax system, assistance in the access to information technology, support to innovation and stimulation of integration between companies and universities. In this area may be found the need for tax reforms.
In the area of infrastructure, Lula pointed out predefined regional projects that involve the sectors of energy, including oil, gas, ethanol, biofuels and electricity. Lula also mentioned the sectors of transport, including automotive, railway, maritime and aerial transport.
The Brazilian president also pointed out projects in the technology area, like software, pharmaceutical products, capital goods, semiconductors and digital TV and also touched on basic inputs, including ironworks products, pulp and paper, petrochemicals and mining products as well as civil construction, with projects in infrastructure, habitation and basic sanitation.
Lula also defended the reduction of interest rates. "No country can develop a solid growth policy if the cost of capital is higher than the average return of business," he said. He also defended the need for expansion of credit in the country and stated that his government’s target is to make the offer of credit reach 50% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2010.
To expand growth, he also pointed out the need for actions to reduce the bureaucracy in foreign trade, in the opening and closing of companies and in the improvement of sanitary and environmental laws.
In the search for development, Lula pointed out the importance of the Bolsa Família program, which guarantees minimum income to impoverished families. According to the president, the program has removed millions of men and women from misery, contributing to the reduction of economic inequality and inspiring similar programs in other countries.
He said, however, that it is now necessary to create labor alternatives for those receiving benefits in the program. "Our government has never been, and is not, populist. This government was, is and will always be popular," he pointed out. In this process, he pointed out the importance of education, training labor, expanding micro credit, strengthening family agriculture, boosting land reform, cooperatives and the promotion of entrepreneurship in middle classes, among others.
Lula pointed out that in this set of needs, education is especially prominent and added that it will be the priority of his second term in office. "More than qualification for work, education is an instrument of freedom. It provides content to the formal citizenship of men and women," he said. "A country grows when it can absorb knowledge. But, in reality, it becomes strong when it can produce knowledge," he added.
To expand education he mentioned the Fund for the Maintenance and Development of Basic Education (Fundeb), which turns funds to the sector, being 60% to the improvement of salaries and in the education of teachers. Lula also promised to put information technology in all public schools in the country and to expand the ProUni program, which grants scholarships to impoverished students who may study in private universities.
"Brazil will see over the next ten to fifteen years the growth of a new generation of intellectuals, scientists, technicians and artists coming from poorer sectors of the population," he declared. Lula recalled his poor origin in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco, and that as a child he migrated to São Paulo with his family, where he became a metal worker, union leader, politician and, finally, president.
In the foreign area, Lula stated that in recent years the growth of the global economy fueled the growth of emerging countries, but relations between rich and poor nations have not improved. "The solution to the great global problems, like the persisting economic and financial inequality between nations, commercial protectionism by the great, hunger and inclusion of the abandoned, preservation of the environment, disarmament and the adequate fight against terrorism and international crime did not evolve," he said.
To the president, international organizations, especially the United Nations (UN), "have not updated themselves to the new times that humanity is living". The Brazilian diplomacy defends the reform of the UN with greater participation of emerging countries in decision taking, especially in the Security Council.
Lula pointed out that the foreign policy of his government is marked by a "clear option for multilateralism, necessary for the creation of a world of peace and solidarity". "This option made it possible for us to maintain excellent political, economic and commercial relations with the great world powers and, at the same time, prioritize ties with the South of the world," he said. He pointed out, for example, the expansion of relations between Brazil and Africa and the remaining countries in South America.
Before being sworn in at the Congress and giving his inaugural address, Lula and first lady Marisa Letícia and vice president José Alencar and his wife, also called Mariza, paraded in open vehicles in the Ministerial Area and waved to the public, despite the rain that started and stopped in the Brazilian capital.
At Congress they were met by the presidents of the senate, Renan Calheiros, who presided the ceremony, and of the Lower House, Aldo Rebelo. Various politicians, diplomats and guests followed the ceremony, which was much simpler than the ceremony of four years ago, starting president Lula’s first term in office.
On leaving Congress, Lula went to the Presidential Palace, where he gave an improvised address to those present at the Square of the Three Powers. He thanked the population for his re-election. "The Presidential Palace must receive kings, princes, businessmen, representatives and governors. But it is now also necessary to get used to receiving minorities, paper collectors, blacks, Indians and women," he pointed out. According to the Brazilian government news agency, Agência Brasil, around 10,000 people watched the address.
Yesterday the governors of the 26 Brazilian states and of the Federal District, where the country capital is located, were also sworn in. They were all elected in October, as was Lula.
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