LATIN AMERICA

Rousseff announces plans to shut down 10 of Brazil’s 39 ministries

President delivers austerity message to quell protests over corruption and recession

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who remains mired in a protracted political crisis, on Monday announced plans to streamline her government in order to quell growing criticism of her management and public concern over the economic crisis.

Rousseff, of the Workers’ Party (PT), said she would bring the current 39 ministries down to 29, and also eliminate some of the 22,000 politically appointed positions throughout the country. The president also said she would sell off some government assets and cut administrative spending on transport, water, electricity and other sectors.

According to the Brazilian central bank, the economy will not recover in 2016 as experts had hoped

On August 16, about 800,000 demonstrators held protests in various cities across the country to call for Rousseff's resignation. Last week, the country’s central bank admitted that the end of the recession is still a long way off.

According to the central bank, the economy will not recover in 2016 as experts had hoped, but a year later instead. Meanwhile, businesses are holding back on investments and the economy shrunk by 1.89 percent in the second quarter of this year, the worst result on record since 2009. Unemployment has reached 7.5 percent.

By the time Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazilian Social Democracy Party, PSDB) ended his second term in office in 2002, the administration had 24 ministries. His successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, created 15 new portfolios in a little over a decade in power.

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Until now, Rousseff had defended the need for all of the ministries even though most Brazilians, the opposition, and the president’s newest political ally, Senate President Renan Calheiros, had long called for a downsized government.

If the reform plan is approved, the president will have to take on the difficult task of balancing the demands of all nine parties in her government coalition. Rousseff will most likely shut down the Ports, Civil Aviation and Fisheries Ministries led by Vice President Michel Temer’s own Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). This group also controls the Tourism, Agriculture and Mining and Energy Ministries.

Translation by Dyane Jean François