Brazilian Government Announces Economic Package with 12 Measures

President Michel Temer announced on Thursday (15) a new economic package with measures to stimulate the economy. Also taking part in the announcement were the house or representative’s president, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), Senate’s President Renan Calheiros (PMDB-AL), Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles and the Minister of Planning, Dyogo Oliveira.

Temer started the announcement saying that the goal is to stimulate growth and reduce unemployment. Before announcing the measures officially, the president commented on the approval of the PEC 241, which limits spending increases for the next 20 years, approved on Wednesday.

According to Temer, “these reforms aim to increase the growth of the Brazilian economy. We never ignored the difficulties that we would have when we took over the government, but we are succeeding in advancing these topics.”

Despite being positive for the economy, these 12 measures are seen as a desperate way to try and deviate the attention from the corruption investigations that are currently hitting Temer’s government right in the core. In any case, the measures are positive. To them:

Tax Debt Negotiation

Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles was responsible for giving more details on each of the measures. The first provides for tax debt negotiation for companies with debts due through November 30. Meirelles said that “any tax debt” is eligible, including social security. For debts that are being questioned in the Court, it is necessary to prove the desistance of the lawsuits.

“The program allows tax negotiations for companies that are preparing to grow again, as macroeconomic adjustment is under way,” said Meirelles.

Guaranteed Property Letter

Another measure, according to Meirelles, is the regulation of the “Letra Imobiliária Garantida”, an instrument of funding for real estate credit. The objective is to broaden the supply of long-term credit for civil construction.

Meirelles said that this type of bond, being both secure and long-term, is an “important alternative source for real estate lending and increases the supply of long-term lending to the industry.” This measure will have to go through public consultation and then be regulated by the National Monetary Council (CMN).

Improvement in the “positive register”

Meirelles also announced the improvement of the positive credit rating, which allows the creditor to analyze the person’s history. Membership becomes automatic, and exclusion has to be requested. The goal is to reduce credit risk and make room for lower interest rates for good payers.

Credit measures

Meirelles says another measure is to allow price differentiation according to the mode of payment. Such a change allows retailers to charge different prices depending on the payment mode used, ie different prices if the customer pays cash or credit card, which is currently prohibited by law. He recalled that it is common for stores to give discounts for purchases made in cash, but not the same on credit cards.

Reduction of card interest

Another measure presented by Meirelles is the reduction of interest rates on the credit card charged to the consumer and the term of payment to the merchant. The minister says the regulation should be submitted within 10 days.

Bank spread

According to the finance minister, the government is also proposing the creation of the electronic duplicate with the objective of reducing the so-called “spread” of the banks (difference between the rate of funding, close to the basic rate of the economy, at 13.75%/ year today, and the rate charged to bank customers).

“We want to create a central registry of duplicates, credit card receivables and allow the granting of credit with a lower guarantee, which increases the security for creditors and the supply of credit for small and medium-sized enterprises, with lower interest rates. “, he said.

Reduction of bureaucracy

On the issue of de-bureaucratization, Meirelles says that they will simplify the payment of labor, social security and tax obligations through a system called eSocial. The objective is to reduce the time spent by companies to fill declarations, forms and books and the redundancy of information provided to the tax authorities. The deadline for implementation in all companies would be July 2018.

Refund of taxes

Another proposal is to simplify the procedures for restitution and compensation of the taxes administered by Receita (Brazilian IRS), including the compensation between the social security contribution and other taxes.

Business Start-up

Meirelles says another measure will reduce the time to open ventures. A national network for simplifying the registration and legalization of companies and businesses will be implemented.

Competitiveness

The government also announced measures to speed up purchases and sales in foreign trade. According to Minister Meirelles, a single web-accessible portal will be created to forward all documents and data required for business transactions with other countries.

“The idea is to cut import and export procedures by 40 percent”, he said. The implementation period for exports is until March 2017 and for purchases from abroad until the end of next year.

BNDES

Following this, the Minister of Planning, Dyogo Henrique de Oliveira, spoke about other measures. The first deals with the increase from R$ 90 million to R$ 300 million the limit to access the BNDES credit for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Companies with up to R$ 300 million in revenues can also renegotiate debts of operations of up to R$ 20 million with the BNDES. Therefore, companies can seek cheaper interest rates, based on the Long-Term Interest Rate (currently at 7.5% per year).

According to him, the total volume of refinancing is estimated at R$ 100 billion, which will “increase the liquidity of companies”.  “Today, companies are suffering from a great deal of liquidity,” said the Planning Minister.

For large companies, with revenues above R$ 300 million per year, operations included in the Investment Support Program (PSI) may be refinanced. “These refinanced amounts will be with BNDES’ own resources, but with funds with TJLP (Long-Term Interest Rate) funding, with a lower cost”, he said.

FGTS

Another measure announced is the distribution of half of the profits in the FGTS to the workers. “That is to say, when there are profits, part of them will continue to be deposited and the other half will be made available to the worker to pay debts or make a different use”, he said.

Still on the FGTS, he announced the gradual reduction of the additional fine of 10% – which is paid by employers at the time of dismissal of employees, on top of the 40% that goes to employees. According to him, the idea is to reduce that 10% at the rate of one percentage point a year to relieve the entrepreneurs.

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