BRASILIA – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro again admitted on Monday his lack of expertise in some areas, including the economy and finance, which he said will be the responsibility of Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, an acolyte of free-market apostle Milton Friedman (1912-2006).
“Admitting my ignorance in many areas is a sign of humility. I’m certain I know a lot more about politics than Guedes, but he knows much more about the economy than I do,” the president said at a ceremony in which the new presidents of Brazil’s three principal public banks assumed their positions.
“Guedes was at liberty to choose his entire team,” Bolsonaro said.
Taking their positions at the ceremony were the presidents of the Caixa Economica Federal (CEF), Pedro Guimaraes; of the Banco do Brasil, Rubem Novaes; and of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), Joaquim Levy, all in line with the free-market ideology of Guedes, an economist trained at the University of Chicago.
Guedes was a professor in Chile during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who relied heavily on a group of Chilean economists known as the “Chicago Boys,” because they had trained under Friedman at the University of Chicago.
“If the economy does well, we’ll have more jobs, the violence index will drop and we’ll have better days ahead,” Bolsonaro said.
He added that his government will review the distribution of funds for official publicity, so it will no longer favor one media outlet over another.
“Having a free press is a rule of democracy” and the idea is to distribute the advertising budget without favoring any particular media outlet, so “they can all do good work.”
He also said the funds directed by the government to support non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be reviewed and audited.
“It may seem that this has little importance, but it does, and for that reason NGO funding will undergo a strict control to make sure public resources are put to good use,” Bolsonaro said.