May 2, 2017 / 11:11 PM / 9 months ago

Brazil's Meirelles sees 0.7 pct to 0.8 pct Q1 GDP growth

BRASILIA, May 2 (Reuters) - Brazil’s economy will post growth of between 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent in the first quarter, turning the corner on a two-year recession, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said on Tuesday.

In an interview with GloboNews cable channel, Meirelles said Brazilian companies will have to start to restock inventories and draw up investment plans.

Latin America’s largest economy shrank 0.9 percent in the last three months of 2016, its eighth straight quarter of retreat. Unemployment has hit a record 13.7 percent with more than 14 million Brazilians looking for work.

Meirelles said the reform of Brazil’s costly social security system, the main cause of a gaping budget deficit, is crucial to restore growth and create jobs despite its unpopularity.

The changes to the pension system, which will extend the years Brazilians must work to retire on full benefits, are opposed by 71 percent of those surveyed by pollster Datafolha.

The reform proposal by President Michel Temer is scheduled to face a key vote in committee on Wednesday before it is put to a floor vote in the lower house of Congress next week. (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Diane Craft)

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