government says jobs, confidence priorities
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[May 16, 2016]
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's
interim president, Michel Temer, said in a televised interview Sunday
that he hopes to reduce unemployment and bring economic and political
calm to Latin America's biggest country.
Temer, a centrist who took over as interim president last week after
Brazil's senate voted to suspend Dilma Rousseff and try her for
irregularities in the government budget, said his government would
cut public spending where possible and that a reform of Brazil's
pension system was essential.
Repeating a pledge made last week, Temer said the cost-cutting would
not affect popular social programs that marked the 13-year rule of
Rousseff's Workers Party.
Brazil's newly formed government is scrambling to identify economic
reforms to revive an economy in its worst recession since the Great
Depression. In addition to a gaping budget deficit, it must control
near double-digit inflation and rising unemployment.
Temer, who was the leftist Rousseff's vice president, will remain
interim president for the duration of her trial, which could last as
long as six months and is expected to lead to her ouster. He said he
would not seek the presidency if he serves out the rest of the term,
which goes through 2018.
Asked what he would like his legacy to be if he remains in office,
Temer said: "reduce unemployment and see a calmed country."
In the recorded interview with Globo, Brazil's biggest television
network, Temer also said he would not interfere with corruption
probes that have upended Brazilian politics in recent years,
ensnaring dozens of political and corporate leaders and helping
weaken the Rousseff administration.
In a separate interview with the same program, Brazil's new finance
minister, Henrique Meirelles, also said spending cuts would not
affect existing social programs and identified "confidence" as the
country's worst economic problem.
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Meirelles, a former banking executive who served as central bank president
during the first two Workers Party administrations, said the government needs to
make up for revenue shortfalls but has not yet decided whether to raise any new
taxes, included a much-discussed levy on financial transactions.
The government is also undecided on what form pension reforms will take or by
how many years it may plan to raise Brazil's minimum retirement age, a step
Meirelles and economists say is necessary to give long-term stability to the
"We are studying all measures to make the country grow again, create jobs and
increase income for everyone," Meirelles said.
(Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Chris Reese and Sam Holmes)
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