Brazil Police Storm Congress Over Pension Reform

Police officers attempt to break into the Brazilian National Congress during a protest by officers from several Brazilian states against pension reforms/hoto: AP
Brazil Police Storm Congress Over Pension Reform

Congressional police in riot gear used tear gas to drive back hundreds of members of federal police unions who tried to invade the Brazilian Congress on Tuesday to protest a pension reform bill that would reduce their benefits.

The demonstrating police officers broke glass doors before being pushed back in a violent clash that underscored the unpopularity of the pension reform that is at the heart of Temer’s austerity program.

The program aims to rescue the Brazilian economy from its deepest recession on record. Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse fellow officers from the front doors of Congress.

Earlier Temer had made new concessions to ease the bill’s passage. He agreed to set a lower retirement age for women, police, teachers and rural workers and grant more generous transition rules for workers after allies’ concerns delayed the bill’s formal presentation.

The lower Chamber of Deputies, where debate on the bill will begin at committee level on Wednesday, said in a statement that 500 demonstrators, most of them off duty police officers, tried to invade the building but were repelled with no injuries reported.

The controversial reform sets a minimum retirement age of 65 years in a country where public sector employees work on average to 54 before retiring in a generous social security system that is the main cause of Brazil’s unsustainable budget deficit.

The police went ahead with their protest despite the announcement of the concessions. The changes reduced the proposed age of retirement for police officers to 60 from 65 years.

The 27 federal police unions behind the protest said the bill fails to reward the risk involved in police work. 

Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said the changes would reduce government savings from the reform by 20 per cent to 25 per cent in the next 10 years, and by nearly 30 per cent over a 30-year horizon.

Some analysts have a dimmer outlook. In a note to clients, JP Morgan analysts said the changes could mean savings of just 472 billion reais ($201 billion), down 40 per cent from 781 billion originally.

Source/Sidney Morning Herald

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