MENDOZA, Argentina (Reuters) - President Michel Temer said on Friday that his government has no plans for now to raise taxes again in its effort to meet this year’s fiscal target, one day after raising taxes on fuels and announcing an additional spending freeze.
“There is no plan. For the time being, our economic team is just looking at this increase (announced Thursday),” Temer told journalists during a meeting of the South American trade bloc Mercosur. He added: “I don’t know if there will be a need for more later, but not now.”
In a speech earlier, Temer said Brazilians would understand the need to raise taxes to shrink the budget gap and recover investor confidence in Brazil’s overdrawn government accounts.
The tax hike was blasted by business leaders as the wrong way to go in restoring fiscal balance because it would hurt Brazilian’s incipient recovery from its worst recession on record.
“Their reaction is natural; nobody wants more taxes. But I am sure this will pass when they understand that meeting the fiscal target is fundamental for the country’s stability and encouraging growth,” Temer said.
The Finance and Planning ministries announced on Thursday that the government was freezing an additional 5.9 billion reais ($1.9 billion) in federal spending this year, and increasing the federal PIS/Cofins social contribution tax on gasoline, diesel and ethanol to raise about 10.4 billion reais in new revenues.
Brazil plans to cut its budget deficit to 139 billion reais this year before interest payments. Earlier this year it had announced a budget freeze of 39 billion reais to meet that target. The deficit in the 12 months through May was at 167.6 billion reais, equivalent to 2.59 percent of gross domestic product.
Brazil lost its investment-grade rating in 2015 after missing budget targets for years. But slow recovery from a two-year recession has meant dismal tax revenues.
Reporting by Jorge Otaola; Writing by Pedro Fonseca and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman