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Brazil's Meirelles says no pension vote until conditions ripe
July 21, 2017 / 6:42 PM / a month ago

Brazil's Meirelles says no pension vote until conditions ripe

Brazil's Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles gestures during a news conference in Brasilia, Brazil June 29, 2017.Ueslei Marcelino

MENDOZA, Argentina (Reuters) - Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said on Friday that the government's pension reform bill will only be put to the vote in Congress "when conditions are mature" and the timing is not certain.

Speaking to journalists during a meeting of the South American trade bloc Mercosur, Meirelles said there was no plan to break up the unpopular legislation to ease its passage through Congress.

Corruption charges pending against President Michel Temer have delayed efforts to win approval of the pension bill in the lower house of Congress next month and in the Senate before the end of the year. The pension system is the biggest drain on government finances and reducing its cost is key to bringing a bulging budget deficit under control.

"We will go ahead with the original proposal, with the modifications that have already been approved in committee. The only question is when it will be put to the vote," Meirelles said.

"The Speaker of the House is fully in agreement with the government on that, and on the need to hold the vote until the conditions are mature," he added. "Our expectations are that it will eventually go ahead."

Meirelles said Brazil lives under "some uncertainty" that will be resolved at some point. "And then life will go on."

Reporting by Juan Bustamante Rojas; Writing by Anthony Boadle; editing by Diane Craft

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