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After End of Check Tax Brazil Looks for Ways to Fund Anti-Poverty Programs

Mother, son and Bolsa FamÀ­lia card in Brazil The administration of Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has suffered a major defeat over a key financial transactions tax which accounts for US$ 20 billion in annual revenue. The bill fell four votes short of at least 49 needed in the Senate to renew the tax, known as the CPMF, for four more years.

The failure to renew the tax, which expires on December 31st, could have implications for important anti-poverty programs in the country like the Bolsa Famí­lia (Family Voucher) and is also a significant blow for Lula.

As a constitutional measure, the renewal of the tax until 2011 needed the support of at least 49 of 81 senators. However, only 45 senators voted in favor.

The longstanding tax, which was created in 1993 with a different name (IPMF – Temporary Tax on Financial Transactions) represented about 10% of the government's revenue. However, the CPMF (Temporary Contribution on Financial Transactions), which involved a charge (0.38%) on all financial transaction such as bank withdrawals, was unpopular among many sections of Brazilian society.

Critics said the tax was meant to be a temporary measure to subsidize health care but the revenue was used for other things and it required poorer sections to pay as much as the better off.

Ministers conceded that Brazil needed to lower its tax burden, but argued that removing such a major source of revenue that was vital to maintain many social policies was not the way to reach this objective.

The tax extension had already passed in Brazil's lower house of Congress, but senators who opposed the bill argued that the CPMF has elevated the nation's tax burden as government spending rose faster than economic growth.

They also said the tax hurts the poor and isn't needed anymore because the government's overall tax receipts have increased sharply as Brazil enjoys a sustained economic boom.

The government spends about 45% of CPMF revenues on anti-poverty efforts, 40 percent goes to health care and about 15 percent is used to help cover social security benefits, the Finance Ministry said.

The food program distributes US$ 379 million a month to 45 million of Brazil's 185 million citizens so they can buy food, the government says. The main requirement is that families pledge to keep their children and get them vaccinations.

Lula da Silva's administration could try to cut spending from the 2008 budget to make up the CPMF shortfall, or seek to have other taxes raised to reduce the deficit.

Jose Múcio, Lula's primary liaison with Congress, said the administration hasn't decided yet how it will find money to fund social programs and health care for the needy but "must look for new ways to make sure these Brazilians aren't left out."

Dilma Rousseff, the president's chief of staff, called an emergency meeting of top ministers at the presidential palace to plot strategy on how to make up the budget shortfall.

The defeat came despite the election a short time earlier of a government ally, Garibaldi Alves, as the new president of the Senate. His predecessor, Renan Calheiros, also a supporter of President Lula, had to resign over a long-running corruption scandal.

However, with local elections due the next year, it seems opposition parties were not in the mood for compromise over tax. The defeat has also exposed the government's inability to manage a key part of its own agenda.

Mercopress

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  • Lloyd Cata

    ch.c. – Thanks for the numbers
    [i]- Yessss Lula is proud to spend 2 % of the annual budget for 23 % (45 millions) of the total population……and spend well over 23 % of the same budget for the well being of HIS army of ministers, politicians from ALL parties and bureaucrats totalling 2 % of the population. -[/i]

    …and so we have it! A formula for the ‘legitimate’ overthrow of a ‘democratically elected’ government, “by any means necessary”(Malcolm X). The necessity of radical change, of returning balance, and for justice in ANY society.

    So, the drug lords and gangsters will reap a new cadre of soldiers, who will fight for position in the crime world, forcing an increase in police forces and repressive police tactics. Subversive forces bent on anarchy will find willing hearts and minds to feed, not a socialist, but a communist agenda, prompting internal and external military pressure on the entire society.

    Why not? Hungry, sick, ignorant people do not have a government. They have overseers who simply insure they do not upset the status quo. They have no allegiance with a state that denies basic human needs. They don’t need the numbers to tell them the story as it greets them every day, like the sun. If they are hungry, and Chavez gives them food…if they are sick, and Fidel sends a doctor…if they are in darkness, and Osama gives them light…what chance does any state have to overcome the need for such simple things?

    60,000 years the indigenous peoples thrived without a state; a community of equals. 600 years of oppression looks to erase the true lessons of mankind. I wish I had the words, because we know what happens when words fail…

  • João da Silva

    Ch.c
    [quote]and spend well over 23 % of the same budget for the well being of HIS army of ministers, politicians from ALL parties and bureaucrats totalling 2 % of the population[/quote]

    Well, I am a problem solver and not a creator.How about increasing his army of minsters to 40 and pay each of them 5 monthly minimum wages ? 40 is a magic number, don’t you think so? 😉

  • ch.c.

    “The food program distributes US$ 379 million a month to 45 millions”
    Or around Us$ 8,40 per month for each of the 45 millions “beneficiaries”.
    Or around US$ 0,25 per day……..for the 3 (IN)decent meals that Lula is so proud of …providing !!!!!

    You cant even feed a cat with that money….including in Brazil. But Lula is proud of that !

    Yessss Lula is proud to spend 2 % of the annual budget for 23 % (45 millions) of the total population……and spend well over 23 % of the same budget for the well being of HIS army of ministers, politicians from ALL parties and bureaucrats totalling 2 % of the population.

    Yesssssss 2/23 and 23/2…are the magical Bin Lula formulas…the one guy who apparently wants to reduce inequalities !!!!!

    And as to the increase of the minimum wages ? No problem either ! The vast majority of the bureraucrats wages are based on a multiple
    of the minimum wages !!!!!!!!

    And BANG…..whatever you do….nothing will ever ever change !

    How could anyone expect Lula to reduce the wealth inequality…using HIS formulas ?????

    Better yet, if the minimum wage is not high enough, bureaucrats will get some type of promotions and go from let say 6 minimum wages to 7 or 8…..but keeping the multiple effect of the minimum salary. And BANG…..now you have MORE wealth inequality.

    And still better yet : these bureaucrats have also a magical formula to retire early with a very high pensions…..but not those at the 1 minimum wage levels…OR LOWER !
    LOWER because despite the “law” on the minimum wage, at least 30 % of the population doesnt earn this minimum !

    What a shame….what a shame !

  • João da Silva

    After End of Check Tax Brazil Looks for Ways to Fund Anti-Poverty Programs
    [quote]Critics said the tax was meant to be a temporary measure to subsidize health care but the revenue was used for other things and it required poorer sections to pay as much as the better off.[/quote]

    I am one of those critics and I would prefer to use the phrase “the revenue was MISUSED”.

    [quote]but argued that removing such a major source of revenue that was vital to maintain many social policies was not the way to reach this objective.[/quote]

    Sorry, it was not the ONLY source of major revenue. What about IPI,ICMS,ISS AND the personal Taxes of the salaried people? Remember that IPMF/CPMF was created for the sole purpose of bettering the Public health care System. Why was it being MISUSED for other nebulous purposes?

    [quote]The government spends about 45% of CPMF revenues on anti-poverty efforts, 40 percent goes to health care and about 15 percent is used to help cover social security benefits, the Finance Ministry said.[/quote]

    If the government concedes that ONLY 40% goes to the health care, it is obvious that it forgot the purpose of creating the tax. Let us not forget the ruling party did oppose this tax when it was created. To be fair, even the government of FHC forgot that fact!

    [quote]Lula da Silva’s administration could try to cut spending from the 2008 budget to make up the CPMF shortfall, or seek to have other taxes raised to reduce the deficit.[/quote]

    His administration can set an example by eliminating the present number of ministries of 37 to a manageable one of 20. Why do we need Ministries of Tourism, Culture, Racial integration and other foolish ones?

    [quote]The defeat came despite the election a short time earlier of a government ally, Garibaldi Alves, as the new president of the Senate. His predecessor, Renan Calheiros, also a supporter of President Lula, had to resign over a long-running corruption scandal.[/quote]

    Well done.

    [quote]However, with local elections due the next year, it seems opposition parties were not in the mood for compromise over tax. The defeat has also exposed the government’s inability to manage a key part of its own agenda.[/quote]

    We Southerners are keeping a close watch on the next yearÀ‚´s municipal elections. We are going to get rid of the demagogues.Just wait and see.

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