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UPDATE 3-Brazil's Senate, Rousseff to propose market-friendly agenda
August 12, 2015 / 1:00 AM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 3-Brazil's Senate, Rousseff to propose market-friendly agenda

(Adds Lower Chamber vote on wage hikes in 8th graph)

By Silvio Cascione

BRASILIA, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and leading senators plan to introduce an agenda of market-friendly proposals this week, in a move one senior official said was aimed at countering a revolt by lower chamber lawmakers.

The “Brazil Agenda” put forward by Senate President Renan Calheiros was discussed at a dinner Rousseff hosted for senators from her coalition on Monday as she looks to rekindle economic growth and overcome a major political crisis.

The conversation suggests a rapprochement between Rousseff and Calheiros, whose ties had been strained because of the senator’s outrage at being investigated for alleged involvement in a corruption scandal at state-run oil firm Petrobras, formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

A senior official in Rousseff’s cabinet said the “positive” dialogue with the Senate leader was designed to counter the aggressive opposition of the speaker of the lower chamber, Eduardo Cunha, since his recent defection to the other side of the floor.

It also could help her fend off a potential impeachment attempt over a corruption scandal and a probe into government accounting practices.

“Many of Renan’s proposals fully coincide with our own,” Rousseff said during an event on energy investments. “They show on the part of the Senate an inclination to help Brazil find a way out of its difficulties as fast as possible.”

Cunha reacted angrily to the Senate agenda and said any attempt to isolate the lower chamber countered the constitution. “It won’t fly, it’s a dumb move,” he told reporters.

In a minor victory for the government, the lower chamber on Tuesday prevented the inclusion of tax auditors in a proposal to hike the wages of some public servants. Last week, the chamber approved a bill to raise salaries, which would cost the government 2.5 billion reais ($719.76 million) in extra spending a year.

Many of the proposals are likely to draw opposition within Rousseff’s own Workers’ Party too. Among them are regulating outsourced labor, raising inheritance taxes and introducing paid services in Brazil’s government-provided healthcare system.

The final list of proposals will be ready on Wednesday or Thursday, Senator Romero Juca, an influential senator from the PMDB party, said by Twitter.

The 27 measures fall into three areas: business and infrastructure, fiscal discipline, and social protection. They also include raising the retirement age and fast-tracking environmental licensing for infrastructure projects. ($1 = 3.4734 Brazilian reais) (Additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello, Anthony Boadle and Alonso Soto; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Lisa Von Ahn, Alan Crosby and Bernard Orr)

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