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7 months ago
Brazil's Temer, in battle for survival, plans economic stimulus
December 12, 2016 / 7:15 PM / 7 months ago

Brazil's Temer, in battle for survival, plans economic stimulus

3 Min Read

BRASILIA, Dec 12 (Reuters) - President Michel Temer, fighting for survival over corruption allegations against him and his government, is planning new measures to jump start a stalled economy, improve his dismal approval ratings and stifle calls for his resignation.

The stimulus measures, to be unveiled this week, include steps to relieve indebted consumers and also force credit card companies to pay businesses faster than the current 30 days, government sources said on Monday.

Temer is gambling the micro-economic measures will counter discontent over his failure to deliver on his promise to recover Latin America's largest economy from a two-year recession.

Brazil's Senate is expected to give final approval on Tuesday to a 20-year spending cap that is the centerpiece of the president's plan to restore fiscal discipline.

But fallout from more corruption allegations in the sweeping probe into kickbacks at state-run oil company Petrobras could complicate passage of pension reforms needed to bring Brazil's budget deficit under control.

Six months after he took over from impeached leftist Dilma Rousseff, Temer's political survival is threatened by accusations that he, members of his Cabinet and his party's leaders received under-the-table payments from engineering conglomerate Odebrecht.

Odebrecht, the company prosecutors say benefited the most from the Petrobras scam, agreed to a leniency deal with federal prosecutors that requires 77 of its executives and employees to turn state's witness and likely implicate over 200 politicians.

In the first leaked testimony, one Odebrecht executive alleged that Temer requested 10 million reais ($3 million) for his PMDB party's 2014 election campaign.

Disapproval of Temer's government rose to 51 percent from 31 percent in July, according to a Datafolha poll published on Sunday. More worrying for Temer, 63 percent of those polled said they would like to see him resign and new elections held.

Temer also hopes to strengthen his Cabinet by giving the centrist PSDB party a larger role. Several PSDB senators were involved in shaping the stimulus package.

The PSDB is Brazil's third-largest party and already holds three cabinet positions, and it could greatly help Temer get his measures passed in Congress.

The Eurasia political risk consultancy raised its odds of Temer falling from 10 percent to 20 percent last week, but saw little impact from the first Odebrecht plea bargain allegations.

"The risk of Temer falling has increased, but it still remains low," Eurasia said in a note to clients. (Editing by Alan Crosby)

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