CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILL 241 IMPEDES RIGHTS ENSURED BY THE BRAZILIAN LAW
Intended tolimit public spending a tackling the crisis, the bill jeopardizes health, education and social assistance in Brazil and is likely to increase social inequality.
Such bills(PECs) are initiatives proposed by the government to change the Constitution.According to President Michel Temer, its purpose is to cap the ever-growing public spending and therefore balance the country’s budget.The project sets to set a limit to expendituresfor up to 20 years.
In practice, PEC 241 limits spendingto the previous budget plus the inflation rate for the period.If it is effective in 2017, the budget will be equivalent to 2016’s, plus the inflation for the year.The present bill should affect the three powers — executive, legislative and judiciary — and the limits for health and education would be effective in 2018.
The bill was approved in its first round of voting in the Lower House and its impact on public services and workers’ salaries will be devastating.
In a simulation by newspaper Folha de São Paulo, if this bill had been effective since 2006, the budget for health in 2016, which was R$ 102 billion, would have been R$ 65 billion.Education would face an even worse scenario, as the present budget is R$ 103 billion and it would have been R$ 31 billion, a third of it.
As for salaries, a study conducted by Getúlio Vargas Foundation showed that, had the bill been effective since 1998, the minimum wage would be R$ 400, less than half of the present R$ 880. All policies for minimum wage readjustment, an instrument of income distribution in the last period, will be over.
A study by researchers from Ipea (Institute for Applied Economic Research) evidences the losses to be suffered by federal social policies should this bill be approved.The article shows negative projections for the allocation of resources for programs such as Bolsa Família, social security for low-income citizens who were unable to contribute during their active life, Basic Social Protection Services and the Food Security Program.
Together, they cost 1.26 percent of the country’s GDP. If the bill is approved, this amount is expected to shrink to 0.7 percent of the GPD over 20 years.
The Constitution Amendment Bill 241 is a setback to constitutional rights previously granted, including the ones related to the areas of education and health, which have constitutional provision.For the political assistant of the Socioeconomic Studies Institute (Inesc), Grazielle David,
“this bill is an attack against the constitutional rights of Brazil’s population”.
PEC 241/16 also provides that there will be no real increase in investments in social rights, in public policies and social security for 20 years.Specialists believe it poses a threat to the National Education Plan, as the cap jeopardizes the expansion of this network in country where 3 million children and adolescents are still away from school.
CONSEQUENCES FOR EDUCATION
According to the National Campaign for the Right to Education, Bill 241 hinders the goals of the National Education Plan.
In its first 10 years of effectiveness, this proposal would cause losses of R$ 58.6 billion in investments.
CONSEQUENCES FOR HEALTHCARE
PEC 241 will have a negative effect upon the funding and granting of the right to healthcare in Brazil, according to a technical note published by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) and signed by researchers Fabiola Sulpino Vieira and Rodrigo Pucci de Sá e Benevides.
According to the analysis, SUS — the Brazilian public health system — may lose up to R$ 743 billion over 20 years if the proposal that freezes public spending is approved.
The document also shows that the spending with healthcare in Brazil is 4 to 7 times smaller than the one of countries with a universal healthcare system, such as England and France, and lower than the one in South American countries where the right to healthcare is not universal (Argentina and Chile).
CONSEQUENCES FOR SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
According to economist Tereza Campelo, former Minister of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger during Dilma Rousseff’s term,
“Temer’s bill 241 dismantles the policies to mitigate poverty and inequality and send our Protection Network back into the 1990s”.
According to the Ipea’s study, in 20 years the social assistance policies will rely on less than half of the necessary funds to keep its present standards.
For Tereza Campelo, perspectives are terrifyingand she mentions some of its possible effects.
“In 2017, there will not be enough resources to maintain social assistance, or funds for the social assistance reference centers.It will be the end of the federal funding for shelters for children and the elderly, and the end of funds for the follow-up of sexually abused children.There will not be funds for the construction of water reservoirs in the semi-arid region”.
By 2018, Bolsa Família may suffer cuts.In 2026, Tereza Campelo estimates that the program would have to be canceled, which would result in sending 25 per cent of the population back into a situation of poverty and extreme poverty.
EFFORTS AGAINST PEC 241
While 366 deputies voted in favor ofPEC 241 in Brasília in its first round in the Lower House, activists against the proposal started to protest in social media,using the #PECdoFimDoMundo hashtag — which was among the top 10 most popular on Twitter.
Last week, several acts were held countrywide.Society is protesting against the withdrawal of rights that were granted by the Citizen Constitution, such as healthcare, education and social assistance.Students have already occupied almost a thousand schools across the country for the right to education.
The Constitution Amendment Bill 241 was approved in its second round of voting in the Lower
House on Tuesday (25).There were 359 votes in favor, 116 against and 2 abstentions.Six alterations to the text were presented by the opposition and still have to be voted, and then it should be voted by the Senate.
Senate’s president Renan Calheiros and government allies expect to conclude the appreciation of the bill in November, so that it may be enacted and attached to the Federal Constitution.
Pad information on PEC 241
By Katia Visentainer — Communication Pad