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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Temer Says Heís Leading Brazil Responsibly, Not Resorting to Populism

BRASILIA Ė Brazilís President Michel Temer said on Friday, one year after taking office, that his administration was responsibly steering the country through difficult times and was not resorting to populism, a clear swipe at his ousted predecessor.

In remarks at the Planalto presidential palace to his 28 ministers, the heads of both houses of Congress and the CEOs of all of Brazilís state-owned companies, Temer said he had restored investor confidence in the country that had been lost due to excessive public spending.

That was a direct jab at his erstwhile boss, Dilma Rousseff, who was ousted from office via impeachment last year and replaced by Temer, who had been her vice president but became interim president in May 2016 and then took over on a permanent basis three months later.

Temer said Friday that he had taken office at a time when public spending was out of control and the country was facing worryingly elevated levels of unemployment and inflation and had extremely high interest rates.

That scenario has started to change, according to Temer, who said his administration was getting Brazilís economic house in order and noted that inflation had fallen to its lowest level in nearly a decade, providing leeway for the central bank to reduce interest rates.

But the employment situation in the recession-hit country has worsened since Temer took over and began carrying out an austerity plan that has been popular with investors but sparked massive street protests.

The jobless rate, which stood at just over 11 percent when he first assumed the presidency on an interim basis, rose to 13.7 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year.

Even so, Temer said nearly all of Brazilís economic indicators had improved and added that that was due to tough fiscal measures, including the enactment of a spending cap that limits public spending to inflation for the next 20 years.

Temerís next legislative goals are to overhaul the countryís labor law and pension system to spur employment and bring down a high budget deficit, although those proposals sparked an April 28 general strike that was Brazilís first in two decades.

The opposition center-left Workers Party (PT) of Rousseff, who was ousted from office last year for violating budget laws, and her predecessor and political mentor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was an extremely popular two-term president but now faces several corruption trials, has suffered political setbacks recently.

But Temer, of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), has proven to be an unpopular replacement thus far, with polls showing his approval rating hovering at around 10 percent.


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