Bolsonaro Really Wants Pension Reform in 2019

Brazil’s new president’s opening session letter demands social security system overhaul.

As Brazil’s legislature convened, the nation’s new president reinforced his agenda to overhaul its pension system.

Jair Bolsonaro sent a letter to Congress on Monday, which was read by Congresswoman Soraya Santos. Although the president was unable to attend the opening session as he is recovering from surgery related to being stabbed during his campaign, his message was loud and clear: Let’s fix the pension system.

He noted the need to privatize Brazil’s retirement  structure, which he has been working on.

“We are conceiving a modern and at the same time fraternal proposal, which combines the actuarial balance with support to those who need it most, separating ‘welfare’ from ‘assistance,’ while fighting fraud and privileges,” the letter read.

Bolsonaro said one of the items being “formulated” for the new pension is individual retirement savings accounts. Brazil’s legislature said the message could mean a minimum income for all beneficiaries, some of which would be tied to the “ceiling” of the pension system. Congress added that a minimum age requirement and public sector rules should be added to the proposal.

The president said the changes will encourage the rate of national savings, and a consistent way to “free the country from international capital,” adding that welfare’s overhaul “started a big change in Brazil, business flows, [and] employment increases.”

Rodrigo Maia, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, agreed that Brazil’s social security system needs a revamp. He called it the current legislature’s greatest challenge, but if approved, it would indicate further congressional changes such as tax reform, ways to continue economic growth, reducing violence, and combating inequality and poverty.

Maia was re-elected on Friday for another two-year term. He predicted a pensions bill to take two months to get a vote in the lower house before it went to the Senate.

“I am sure we will be able to make the necessary changes in legislation and continue to respond to the wishes of society,” he said.

Senate President Davi Alcolumbre said the overhaul is “vitally important for the balance and sustainability of public finances,” but that a “broad discussion” of this and other topics such as administrative and tax reforms was needed to clarify things.

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