Embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has closed eight ministries and reshuffled her cabinet in an effort to cut costs and shore up support.
All in all, eight minister positions were eliminated, leaving Rousseff’s Cabinet with 31 members instead of 39.
In addition to consolidating ministries, Rousseff announced a 10 percent cut in ministers’ salaries, a 20 percent cut in ministry expenses, the elimination of 3,000 positions and spending limits on telephone calls and travel. Jacques Wagner of the PT will replace Mercadante, who struggled to rebuild her support in Congress.
The Workers’ Party remained the biggest player with nine ministries.
Ms Rousseff made no changes to her economic team, a sign that she will continue to pursue austerity measures to reverse the country’s deficit.
The PMDB increases its quota of ministries to seven, with the appointment of Marcelo Castro to the health brief, which has the largest ministerial budget and is seen as a powerful political bargaining chip. This is a legitimate measure by a coalition government.
“She is trying to make sure of the PMDB’s support”. Even with Friday’s shuffle, the party’s support may be short-lived, considering a convention next month at which the PMDB is expected to reconsider its relationship to the Worker’s Party.
Speaking at the UN’s Sustainable Development Conference ahead of the General Assembly, President Dilma Rousseff laid out the commitment Brazil will bring to the climate change summit: a 43% drop in carbon emissions and zero deforestation by 2030.
A poll this week showed Brazilians are most unhappy with high taxes and interest rates.
Critics say the reforms are largely superficial and, given the country is facing a multi-billion-dollar shortfall in its 2016 budget, are calling for a far deeper restructuring of ministries and governmental departments.
The cabinet announcement gave Brazilian stocks a boost but was shrugged off by currency investors, who said the real was gaining only because disappointing United States payroll numbers suggested the Federal Reserve may not be able to raise rates this year.