President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) vetoed from the Budget Guidelines Law (LDO) a series of provisions that provided funds for fighting the pandemic and its effects in 2022. The new legislation (14.194/2021) officially entered the Federal Official Gazette (DOU) this Monday (23) and brings different sections cut by the head of the Executive.
Approved by the National Congress in July, the LDO establishes norms for the production of the Union’s budget in 2022. It signals the public policies and priorities to be considered when forecasting funds for the following year, which is why it is considered a fundamental step in the budget cycle from the country.
The text is always sent by the Executive Branch to the Legislature and can be partially vetoed by the President of the Republic, but the cut must be evaluated in sequence by the parliamentarians, who may or may not maintain the decision of the head of the Executive.
Bolsonaro blocked, for example, a point in the LDO that stipulated an increase of 50% compared to 2021 in resources spent on vaccine development. In the justifications for the veto, the representative stated that the Ministry of Economy understood that the forecast affronts the public interest because the increase would be “at a level exceedingly higher than that established by the Federal Constitution for other public health actions and services”.
The cut in funds for immunizing agents drew attention especially because the issue is on the rise in view of the needs brought by the health crisis, in which the country still suffers an index of 34% of the population who took only the first dose of the vaccine against the covid. The data comes from the “Our world in data” platform, which tracks the progress of immunization in the world.
The president of the Brazilian Association of Public Health (Abrasco), Rosana Onocko, says that the index demonstrates the existence of a “great vaccine debt” with the population, given the severity of the pandemic and the risks posed by the virus. The spread of the new coronavirus has already caused the death of more than 575,000 Brazilians, in addition to 20.6 million confirmed infections.
“Unfortunately, we are not surprised by today’s veto because it is a government that has constantly shown its lack of commitment to public health, to life. So, saying that it vetoed money for the vaccine is another capitulation of Brazil resigning itself and renouncing to be sovereign in relation to preserving the health and restoring the health of its population. It’s pitiful.”
The leader points out that the country, given its history in the field of immunization, would have the expertise and operational conditions to present a more successful picture with regard to vaccination against covid. Abrasco observes that the country’s potential could even raise it to the position of “world leader” in the matter, if there were more investments in the area.
“Brazil was able, both through Fiocruz and Butantan, to have been a great producer of vaccines to help the world, an attitude that the country has always had because it has always shown itself to be a solidary country, concerned with humanitarian contributions. But we missed that chance too.”
Bolsonaro’s scissors at the LDO also affected other points that had been approved in Congress for the health area, including a set of excerpts that provided priority and goals for the federal public administration in 2022.
In this particular issue, measures such as awareness campaigns on prevention and health care, the expansion of the infrastructure of the care network for people with cancer and care for patients with sequelae caused by the new coronavirus were affected.
Planalto claimed that such actions would contribute to “the increase in budgetary rigidity, which is already excessive” because the rules for the application of public expenditures affect meeting the country’s primary result target.
The cuts are seen with concern by the Brazilian Center for Health Studies (Cebes), which brings together different specialists in the area. For the epidemiologist Heleno Corrêa Filho, from the national board of the entity, the initiative of President Jair Bolsonaro is linked to the other conducts of the Chief Executive in relation to the pandemic and the lack of prioritization of public health throughout his term.
“The vetoes mean that he and his political group don’t care if people die from covid-19. They don’t care about the contingency of money in benefit of the health of those who are going to die and [o presidente] doesn’t care about controlling the pandemic. He just wants people to be threatened with dying, getting sick, starving and being jobless, homeless. He doesn’t care much about it.”
The leader points out that the context of budgetary tightening that Brazil is currently experiencing in the area of health began especially in the political process experienced by the country in recent years. The rescue dates back to a series of measures that relate, for example, to the approval of the Spending Ceiling, approved by the Temer government (2016-2018) through Constitutional Amendment 95. Despite the popular chorus for the repeal of the fiscal adjustment, the Bolsonaro’s management has chosen to maintain the norm.
“We don’t expect anything from the current government for public health. He worked against health from day one. And his predecessor, who staged the coup d’état in 2016, planted the first measures against health, against Social Security and social assistance with Amendment 95, which withdrew money from Social Security for 20 years”.
Edition: Vivian Virissimo