Campaña Latinoamericana por el Derecho a la Educación

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Manifesto against the proposals of the interim government of Brazil that cut public resources for health and education

The Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education supports the recent positions already expressed by the National Campaign for the Right to Education of Brazil against the PEC 241 and demands Congress not to approve this proposal

June 24, 2016

Photo: Arriba las que luchan

altOn June 16, 2016, the interim president of Brazil, Michel Temer, presented to the National Congress a Proposed Amendment to the Federal Constitution (PEC, by its Portuguese acronym) that determines a ceiling on public spending at different administration levels, arguing that it is necessary to create a new tax regime to deal with the current financial crisis. 

At present, Article 212 of the Constitution states that the federal government should allocate to education, annually, at least eighteen percent of tax revenues, and the states, the federal district and the municipalities should allocate twenty five percent. This mechanism of binding resources to tax revenues has been a key achievement in the Constitution of the country since 1934, and has been only discontinued during periods of dictatorship in the country. 

If the proposed amendment called PEC 241/2016 that wants to impose a new tax regime, also known as "roof PEC", is approved, the resources currently invested in health and education will sharply reduce, because it lays down that the maximum amount of public expenditure at different  government levels shall be subject to the value assigned in the previous year, adjusted only according to inflation levels, using the year 2016 as a baseline. This rule would be applied in the country at least in the next 20 years, suspending, in practice, the binding of resources guaranteed by the Constitution. 

The PEC also provides that, if the public authority exceeds the ceiling of maximum public expenditure stipulated, it shall be prohibited to grant salary increases or any other benefit to civil servants. This prohibition extends to the creation of new jobs, opening public tenders and even designing careers involving an increase in expenses. 

These measures advocated by the current interim government would seriously affect the improvement and expansion of access required by the national education system, and compliance with the National Education Plan (PNE, by its Portuguese acronym). For example, it will be impossible to create 3.4 million new enrollments in early childhood education, 700,000 places in pre-school, 500,000 enrollments in basic education and 1.6 million places in secondary schools, as well as 14 million places needed for youth and adult literacy, 4 million for technical and vocational education and 2 million public enrollments at higher level. Besides, it will not be possible to guarantee the payment of the wage floor for teachers and to promote the recognition of this professional career, as well as the implementation of the Initial Quality Education per Student Cost (CAQi, by its Portuguese acronym), that was supposed to start on June 24, 2016.  

According to calculations made by the professor at the Institute of Economics of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) João Sicsú, the education budget for 2015 was R$ 103.8 billion (30.62 billion dollars). According to public spending limits established by the PEC 241/2016, the same budget would have been only R$ 31.5 billion (9.29 billion dollars), a figure that is 70% lower. In particular, the regulation, if approved, will interrupt the growth in education spending. Since 2008 the resources invested in education have increased 117% above the inflation level, and last year they exceeded, in 28%, the minimum required by the Constitution. It would be necessary to keep the pace of the sustained growth that we have been observing, in order to meet the goal of the National Plan of Education that determines the allocation of 10% of the GDP to education until 2024. 

In addition, the resources withdrawn from health and education, through this PEC, would be used to pay interests and other obligations deriving from the public debt of the Brazilian government, to the benefit of banks and creditors.

For all these reasons, we reject the current proposal of the interim government. These are measures that weaken democracy, violating the non-regression principle of human rights, and that will deepen the current economic and social inequalities, affecting the quality of life and dignity of the majority of the Brazilian population. 

The Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) supports the recent positions already expressed by the National Campaign for the Right to Education of Brazil against the PEC 241 and demands Congress not to approve this proposal. In addition, it summons the whole educational community and activists for the right to education to vehemently oppose the PEC 241, in order to ensure the maintenance of social achievements.