June 26, 2019 / 8:17 PM / 2 months ago

Brazil congressional pension committee vote pushed back

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s special congressional committee on pension reform may still vote on the bill this week, according to the government’s spokeswoman in the lower house, dashing earlier hopes the vote would be concluded by Wednesday.

Earlier this month, lower house speaker Rodrigo Maia had said he hoped the committee would give its verdict on the government’s signature reform bill by June 26, before sending it on to the lower house plenary for a full vote.

But on Wednesday, Joice Hasselmann, a congresswoman and the government’s leader in the lower house, said Thursday was now the target, or failing that, early next week, so the bill could still be put to the plenary vote before parliament breaks for recess on July 18.

“Our plan is to vote (in special committee) by Thursday. It will not ruin the timeline if it has to be Monday, but if it can be done this week, let’s do it,” Hasselmann said. “Why wait one more weekend to approve the text and send it to the plenary? We need to start debating this text in the plenary.”

The latest sticking point was states and municipalities. The committee had removed them from the original draft earlier this month, but Maia met with state governors and political leaders on Wednesday to discuss putting them back in.

The government’s bill to overhaul the social security system, shore up public finances and stimulate investment and economic growth aims to save the public purse 1.237 trillion reais ($323 billion) over the next decade.

The special committee made some key amendments to the draft bill earlier this month which diluted the expected savings to 914 billion reais and infuriated Economy Minister Paulo Guedes.

Editing by James Dalgleish

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