Brazil’s lower house speaker rejected what he called government attempts to blame Congress for the latest credit rating downgrade of Latin America’s largest economy.
S&P on Thursday cut Brazil’s debt rating to BB-, citing delays to the approval of austerity measures aimed at taming debt levels. Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles later told Bloomberg that the decision reinforces the need for Brazil to pass a proposed pension system overhaul and measures already sent to Congress.
“The reaction from some in the government certainly doesn’t help,” house speaker Rodrigo Maia said in a text message to Bloomberg on Friday, without naming specific government members. “Trying to transfer the responsibility isn’t fair to a Congress that approved important bills. This doesn’t help.”
Government leaders have delayed until February congressional votes on a bill designed to curb pension outlays, part of a strategy to bolster public accounts. Maia and Meirelles, both of whom are considered possible contenders in this year’s presidential elections, have recently sparred over reform bills, fueling concern that nothing may be done until after the October vote.
The credit rating downgrade represents a moment of reflection, Maia said in his message. It’s time to continue working to approve both the proposed pension overhaul and also other reforms that reorganize the Brazilian government, he added.
Following a corruption scandal that undermined President Michel Temer’s political capital, the government redoubled efforts to overhaul the costly pension system before lawmakers focus on campaigning. The plan was expected to save almost 400 billion reais ($124.4 billion) over 10 years by introducing a minimum retirement age, among other measures.