Eying more social spending, Brazil’s Lula meets with top lawmakers

Brasilia, Nov 9 (EFE).- Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met Wednesday in this capital with the heads of both houses of Congress to discuss how to clear the way for more spending on social programs.

According to sources from his transition team, Lula’s talks with the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, and Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco were aimed at finding space in the 2023 national budget for boosting funding for anti-poverty initiatives – a key campaign promise.

“The country needs dialogue and normalcy,” the leftist politician wrote on Twitter after meeting with Lira, an ally of outgoing rightist President Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula’s initial main goal is to ensure that Brazil’s poorest families receive a subsidy of 600 reais (around $120) a month, although obtaining the necessary funds will require modifying the budget bill that Bolsonaro’s administration sent to Congress.

Under Brazil’s constitution, growth in public expenditures is not permitted to exceed the previous year’s inflation rate, which is expected to come in at 6 percent for 2022.

Lula, however, could try to get around that fiscal rule with a constitutional amendment that carves out an exception for “social investment.”

Lira made no comment on that issue after his meeting with the president-elect, while Pacheco said an amendment of that sort would be “feasible” and could be approved prior to Lula’s Jan. 1 inauguration.

Later in the day, Lula visited the headquarters of the Supreme Court for a meeting with Chief Justice Rosa Weber and other members of the high court.

Coinciding with Lula’s first activities in Brasilia as president-elect, around 1,000 Bolsonaro supporters gathered outside the army’s headquarters in Brasilia to demand a military intervention that prevents the leftist leader from taking office.

That protest was backed by some 300 truckers who arrived in the capital on Wednesday from different parts of the country.

Truckers blocked roads across Brazil demanding a military coup in the hours following Lula’s runoff victory on Oct. 30.

But those pro-Bolsonaro actions fizzled out after the president, without acknowledging defeat, said he would respect the constitution. EFE


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