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Brazil 2010: A profile of José Serra

By Thiago de Aragao.

In this new article, the FPC's Senior Research Associate based in Brazil, Thiago de Aragao, provides a profile of the key ideas of José Serra, one of the main candidates in this year's Presidential election.

1. INTRODUCTION

With the slogan "Brazil can do more," José Serra presented himself as a candidate at an event organized by the PSDB, in Brasilia on April 10. Avoiding direct confrontation with President Lula, who boasts record levels of popularity, Serra has adopted the same "peace and love" style as Lula in 2002. In this line, during public events alongside Dilma Rousseff and Marina Silva, he said he would rely on the cooperation of the PT and PV if he wins the election in October.

Serra has criticized the government in a very timely way and signaled that the government intends to not only maintain but improve many of the programs of the current administration. Especially those that relate to the social area.

the former governor's criticism of the government's economic policies have led to caution in the market and speculation about maintaining the autonomy of the Central Bank should he win the race. During closure of the Forum Review (May 11), Serra accused the CB of being the "patron" of a "financial sieve" based on high interest rates and currency devaluations.

Below (in alphabetical order)is a summary of the PSDB candidate's key stances on various topics since leaving the government of São Paulo and becoming a presidential candidate.

2. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

Positions.Serra spoke out against the appointment of heads of state and regulatory agencies by mere partisanship. The relationship with Congress will take place, preferably, on the basis of budgetary amendments.

Regulatory agencies.Defender of the agencies, Serra states that they lost their momentum in the current management. He said a major reason is the political subdivision of the agencies, a practice that he aims to break.

Privatization.Denied vehemently that he wishes to privatize. He says the PT is behind a lot of the "terrorism" on the subject. He accused the party of having "two faces" in regard to privatization.While the party condemns the practice nationally, local governments run by the PT continue privatizing.

Pre-salt.In his opinion, is a matter to be considered after the elections. The PSDB's candidate prefers the concession model to sharing.He is against the creation of Petro-Sal. He said the responsibility for the oil in the pre-salt may be with Petrobras or the National Petroleum Agency. Although the current government advocates the sharing model, he sees no need to create a new company.

3. EDUCATION

ProUni.University for All Program, whose purpose is to grant full scholarships and partial scholarships in degree courses and sequential specific training in private institutions of higher education.Created by the Federal Government in 2004 and institutionalized by Law No. 11.096, on January 13, 2005, provides, in return, exemption of some taxes to educational institutions that adopt the program. Benefitting students graduating from public highschools or private high schools on the condition that recipients' per capita income of up to three minimum wages. Serra intends to continue the program.

Elementary school.Improving the quality of education. For this, we must invest in teachers. You must have guides for teachers, materials for the student. You have to have incentives for good performance and set goals. It is necessary to establish the base salary.Those who meet their goals should get up to three additional salaries per year. That is, merit weighs in the differentiation of wages.

Technical education."You have to pay attention to a major setback in recent years: the stagnation of education among adolescents.For this age group, although not exclusively for it, let's push the technical and vocational education, that turns into jobs. Jobs for youth, which is burdened by a lack of opportunities to get ahead. And we will do it in a decentralized manner, in partnerships with states and municipalities, which ensures a link between technical colleges and local markets, where the jobs are generated. Teaching quality and moderate costs, allowing us to multiply by two or three more students in the entire country over a period of government "(José Serra, 10/04/10).

4. MUNICIPALITIES

Meeting accounts.José Serra promised to make a settling of accounts over the debts of the federal government to municipalities and vice versa.According to the National Confederation of Municipalities, the municipalities owe to Social Security R$ 22 billion.The account is being charged federally withholding portions of the passing of the Municipal Participation Fund. Moreover, the INSS owes these local executives about R$ 26 billion.

Disasters in municipalities.Serra advocates the creation of a National Force to act in situations of disasters in cities.He said he would organize a permanent national force, which is prepared technologically and scientifically and in a preventative manner.

5. ECONOMIC POLICY

Economic fundamentals.Floating exchange rate, fiscal responsibility and the inflation target, according to Serra, came to stay. No changes in case he is elected. To reinforce its commitment to these fundamentals, the PSDB candidate reminded of the government of Fernando Henrique during the Real Plan and would not turn the table in the economy if elected.

Fiscal policy.Serra has emphatically criticized the increase in public spending. He defended, during the launch of his candidacy by the PSDB in April, fiscal austerity, which according to him, means doing better with the same resources.

Central Bank autonomy.We need to give assurances that the Central Bank can work in peace, without interfering at all times.But if there are calamitous mistakes, the president needs to make sure his position is felt.

Fixed term for the president of CB. Serra is against the imposition of fixed term for the president of the Central Bank.For this to happen, it would be necessary to rewrite the CB model. It is interesting to note that Senator Arthur Virgilio is the author of the bill, among other things, establishing a fixed term for the president and directors of the Central Bank.

Fiscal Responsibility Law.During discussion at the XIII March of Mayors, in Brasilia, Serra spoke about the Law of Fiscal Responsibility. He criticized the unequal application of the LFR on the one hand, states and municipalities and the other, the Union. According to the pre-candidate, the first two entities can not issue debt securities and the Union has no emission limits. "States and municipalities cannot issue debt, and I am in favor of that.But the federal government does so freely, "he said. And he stressed: "In fact, the Fiscal Responsibility Law is on the states and municipalities.

6. ENERGY POLICY

Belo Monte.Considers the project important, but argues for further discussion with regard to environmental issues and economic issues. In its assessment, if the government wants to do it, it needs to convince society of the benefits this plant provides.For him, the next government must give great importance to the subject.

Diversification.Brazil has options for alternative sources of energy not damaging the environment that are not being exploited. These are the cases of wind and solar energy.

7. FOREIGN POLICY

Sovereignty of countries.A country should not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. But when the issue of human rights appears, Brazil will take positive positions. Maintains a friendly relationship with Venezuela.

Mercosur.We set very ambitious targets, according to the toucan.Therefore, he defends its reformulation in order to strengthen it. Aims to strengthen free trade within the bloc. Serra is against the fact that there are impediments regarding the negotiation of bilateral agreements with other countries outside Mercosur.

8. SOCIAL PROGRAMS

Bolsa Familia (Family Allowance). Advocates the maintenance of the Bolsa Familia, strengthening linkages with education and health. Strengthening the referral of youth to elementary school for vocational education. Strengthening of the program in order to strengthen the family.

Helpless.One of his focuses will be the people he classifies as helpless, like the disabled, elderly and children. He said the government has a duty to help and be supportive of those people. During a speech in April, while the PSDB launched him as a pre-candidate, Serra said, "You know how many people with a disability there are in Brazil? More than 20 million - the vast majority without the comfort of accessibility to public facilities and rehabilitation treatment."

Drugs.For Serra, the government needs to invest in clinics and rehabilitation programs for those in need.As young people are the main victims, preventive, educational, law enforcement and assistance must be combined with the expansion of vocational training and job opportunities.

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9. REFORMS

Welfare.Acknowledges that the pension system as a whole, is in deficit. So he says it needs a reform which will eliminate privileges and correct injustices.

Tax Reform.Unnoticed by the press, he made a speech in the congress of the Association of Mining Municipalities, on May 6. At one point, Serra talked about what he thinks about Tax Reform.

The PSDB candidate said that, despite all being in favor of reform, each has his own conviction on this subject, everyone wants something different. Some, more money for municipalities, others want to pay less taxes, more money for the states, along with pressure from various organized sectors, such as exporters, for example."Nobody thinks the same," said Serra.

Due to pressure from so many different interests, the text, however well prepared by the Executive, has just turned into a patchwork quilt in Congress. The end result is that the text ends up generating the opposite effect of what they wanted initially.

Another difficulty pointed out by Serra as far as Tax Reform is the long-term pipeline. In his forecast, if it starts in January, it does not end until December. Then they need to regulate the proposal through complex laws. There is also the deadline for implementing the new system because of the need to adopt a transition rule. That is, according to the PSDB candidate, this whole process would take three or four years at least.

In the end, Serra said, "what does it take then?" And he said, "short term mechanisms." That is, measures that can be made by the Executive, without the need for congressional approval or not requiring a qualified quorum, as the proposed amendment to the Constitution (PEC).

But without a PEC, it is impossible to reduce the number of taxes, create a federal VAT or unify the ICMS legislation.

10. PRODUCTIVE SECTOR

Investment in infrastructure.The crucial problem for Brazil is investment. The PSDB candidate criticized the low rate of government investment to GDP. This, in his assessment, is what undermines the performance of ports, airports, roads and warehouses. The problem, according to Serra, is not just the lack of money, but lack of planning. For him, Brazil's GDP could grow much more if the infrastructure was adequate.

Tax cuts.Serra has criticized the government's decision during the financial crisis, to promote tax cuts. In discussion with mayors in Brasilia, Serra said that the postponement and subsequent return of taxes could have been made. According to him, this avoids a permanent loss for states, municipalities and the Union.

11. OTHER TOPICS

Agriculture.During a speech to farmers, the former governor said that agriculture was "the goose that lays golden eggs" of the country's development and that saved Brazil, balancing the accounts and holding inflation."If it were not for farming the Real Plan would not have worked." Also in the speech, the toucan was critical of barriers to foreign agricultural products from Brazil and exchange rate policy of the current federal government. Serra reaffirmed that social movements that promote fights in the field are "political movements" and must be prevented."This is not to feed this machine with public money," said Serra.

Security.Creation of the Ministry of Security, focusing the information the government holds in the security area.Its main task would be to prevent smuggling and trafficking of drugs.

Health. Serra advocates more investment in health and safety.Recently he said that "health is not turned back, but left to be accelerated.We need to accelerate the health program with a program of acceleration of security. "

Zona Franca de Manaus (Free Zone of Manaus). Advocates the strengthening of the Free Zone. Serra says that you must have an industry, a complementary pole of production. Advocates the provision of incentives to generate more jobs, to produce, because the more pieces and parts are produced in Manaus, the more jobs will be generated. We must build a new port for the region. Argues that the entire transportation system in the Amazon needs to be streamlined, especially the waterway. For him, the Free Zone has to be strengthened. It is a reality that creates jobs, which is very important, and helps preserve the forest.

Royalties from the pre-salt. For the former governor, the stock of pre-salt yet to come should be linked with investments to benefit the whole country. At the same time, it is favorable that the majority of resources continue with the producing states.

Royalties on mining. Jose Serra argues that companies pay more to the states for mineral exploration. In an interview with CBN (May 10), he said Minas Gerais, for example, should receive more than it receives today.

Environment. Serra said he intends to treat more seriously the preservation of the environment and sustainable development.For him, it is possible to make the country grow and protect the environment, preserve the forests, air quality and contain carbon dioxide emissions.It is an urgent duty to give all Brazilians sanitation, which is also the environment. Piped water of good quality, and treated sewage are not luxuries. The green economy is a promising possibility for Brazil in the evaluation of the PSDB candidate.

Human rights. To Sierra, these are not negotiable.He said during an event in the PSDB April 10: "Democracies do not have people imprisoned or sentenced to hang for thinking differently from whoever is in government. Democracies do not have workers dying of hunger strike when they disagree with the regime."