(Adds comments by Meirelles and Finance Ministry officials)
By Silvio Cascione and Marcela Ayres
BRASILIA May 22 Brazilian Finance Minister
Henrique Meirelles said on Monday a corruption scandal would
only briefly delay an overhaul of the country's pension system
and not interrupt a broad reform agenda, even if President
Michel Temer leaves office.
"The reform agenda at this point became part of the Congress
agenda. The most important leaders of Congress have already
understood that the fiscal measures have to be approved, and we
are moving forward," Meirelles said, adding that he expects a
pension reform vote, previously set for as early as the end of
this month, to be delayed by a few weeks.
The government's ambitious goal of approving a thorough
overhaul of labor and social security regulations this year has
been in doubt since the disclosure last week of a recorded
conversation in which Temer appears to condone hush money
payment to a jailed lawmaker.
Meirelles told investors on a conference call that he
expects Temer, who has resisted growing calls for his
resignation, to stay in office through 2018, when his term ends.
If Temer is forced from office, a potential replacement
would have to picked by Congress in an indirect election without
clear candidates, stoking fears of lingering political
instability and a protracted recession.
Meirelles has been mentioned by local media as a top
candidate to win an indirect election, but the minister has
declined to discuss the topic publicly.
Temer's administration will move ahead with short-term
economic measures while it works to rebuild support in Congress,
Mansueto Almeida, secretary for economic monitoring at the
Finance Ministry also told investors.
Separately, the finance ministry believes it is too early to
revise economic growth forecasts for this year, according to
Fabio Kanczuk, secretary of economic policy at the finance
The government forecasts growth of about 1 percent in the
first three months of 2017 on a quarterly basis and a smaller
but still positive rate in the second quarter, which would put
an end to Brazil's two-year-long recession, its worst on record.
(Editing by W Simon and JS Benkoe)