[JURIST] The Brazil Chamber of Deputies [official website, in Portuguese] on Monday voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would limit government spending to counteract the country’s alarming economic downturn. The Brazilian population has been struggling [WSJ report] with rising unemployment rates and an overwhelming recession, and government efforts to stabilize the economy and decrease national debt have been restrained by constitutional provisions that largely determine government spending. President Michel Temer has focused on changing such provisions to limit spending, stressing the government’s obligation to take responsibility for the country’s financial woes. The amendment proposal must pass two rounds of voting in the lower House and Senate [official website, in Portuguese]. Should it be passed, the government would limit spending increases to the rate of inflation and cut back education and health spending for the next ten years. The government could then seek Congressional approval of spending limits before the amendment finally expires ten years later. Following approval, the amendment would take effect in 2017 while changes to education and health spending would not take effect until 2018.
While Temer pushes economic, pension, and labor reforms, he must currently face corruption allegations that link him to the Petrobas scandal that continues to plague the country. Last month, the Brazil Supreme Court [official website] approved a motion [JURIST report] to open a preliminary investigation into accusations that Temer sought donations for his 2012 campaign in exchange for illegal kickbacks on contracts with Petrobras. More than 100 individuals and 50 other politicians have been arrested in connection to the scandal. A Brazilian judge in September accepted charges [JURIST report] against former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva relating to the Petrobas Oil Scandal. In July da Silva filed [JURIST report] a petition with the UN Human Rights Committee, claiming that his corruption investigation has been riddled with impartiality and abuse of power by the judge. In May Brazil’s Supreme court suspended [JURIST report] lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha after being suspected of obstructing investigations into his allegedly corrupt activities. Also in May local media in Brazil reported [JURIST report] that the country’s top prosecutors had requested an investigation into sitting-President Dilma Rousseff over alleged connections to the Petrobras corruption scandal. In April the Supreme Federal Court in Brazil ordered [JURIST report] the legislature to commence impeachment proceedings against Temer.