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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Rio de Janeiro State Legislature Votes to Privatize Water Utility

RIO DE JANEIRO Ė The legislature for cash-strapped Rio de Janeiro state, Brazilís third-largest, voted 41-28 Monday in favor of a controversial bill to privatize its public water and sewage utility.

The sale of Cedae is a condition for different loans the federal government is to provide to the state government, which declared a state of financial emergency in June, prior to the start of the Rio Olympics.

The sale was authorized amid protests by public employees outside the headquarters of the legislature and the water utility, whose employees have announced they will go on strike starting early Tuesday.

The legislative allies of Rio de Janeiro Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao leveraged their majority to vote down more than 200 opposition-proposed amendments against the privatization plan.

The billís supporters said it was necessary to get the stateís financial house in order and pay the salaries of public employees.

Since mid-2016, Rio de Janeiro state has needed federal government loans and aid to cover its liabilities, including the payment of public salaries.

Rio de Janeiro agreed to privatize Cedae as a condition for a financial recovery agreement that also is to include debt restructuring and is aimed at tackling the stateís budget crisis.

Last week, the state government requested the deployment of 9,000 soldiers to patrol the streets due to the possibility of a strike by state police and the need to replace officers who had been dispatched to protect the state legislature from potentially violent protesters.

 

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