Rousseff’s Government still breaking Accounting Laws
The government of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has committed and continues to commit “serious irregularities” in the management of public accounts, said Friday the prosecutor in charge of investigating government wrongdoings with public funds.
The member of the Public Accounts Ministry, Julio Marcelo de Oliveira, detected manoeuvres by the government during the last fiscal year to manipulate its standing. These practices have been found to be illegal by the prosecutor, who recommended the Congress to do the same, although that institution still has not issued a pronouncement.
“There are a multitude examples of misconduct,” said the prosecutor in an interview with a news agency as he summarized the facts by stating that “the government generated expenses without enough money, without financial support”, and used the public banks to finance them.
According to the opposition, that sets up a “crime of responsibility” enshrined in the Constitution as a possible reason for a trial and the removal of the president, a thesis rejected by the government, which intends to refer the case to the Supreme Court.
The prosecutor’s investigation found that in 2014 the government stopped depositing funds in public banks, and instead used them as a paying agent, to make up for payments to the unemployment insurance program, subsidies for the poorest families or credits for farmers, among other obligations.
That led banks to cover those commitments from their own resources and generated a debt to the state that last year closed at 40 billion reais or $ 10,5 billion at current exchange rates. Just over 50% of that debt was generated with the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES), and the remaining amounts are distributed mainly between the Caixa Económica Federal and Banco do Brasil, both state banks.
De Oliveira said that these irregularities began in 2013, but clarified that as of December 31 of that year the government had covered its debts to public banks.
However, the illegal manoeuvres were resumed in early 2014 and were accentuated in the second half of that year, when Rousseff was re-elected for a second term. Unlike 2013, these obligations were not covered and although the debts were reduced by the Government earlier this year, they have gone up and today are at the same level at which they closed in 2014, said De Oliveira.
In his opinion, this shows that there has been “continuity” in what he called “abuse” in the handling of public money. The Court of Auditors has already rejected the government balance reports from 2014 and now with new data, has initiated a process to consider the reports corresponding to the ongoing fiscal year.
The opposition in Congress requested the initiation of a trial with the intent of removing Rousseff, but that move was suspended after many legal scholars considered that a crime committed in the previous mandate can not serve as a basis for judging the current management. In other words, criminals in government can commit all the crimes they want without being charged for the fraud if the crimes are kept secret long enough.
However, research by De Oliveira on the continuity of irregularities in recent months has given new impetus to the opposition, whose members appeared before a public notary on Thursday to demand the start of another impeachment process, now based on illegalities committed in 2015.
This new request will be formalized before Congress next Tuesday and will be analyzed by the president of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who has so far rejected eleven initiatives of this nature because they did not comply with the necessary legal requirements.
De Oliveira declined to comment on whether those irregularities pose a “crime of responsibility,” as claimed by the opposition. He explained that the Court of Auditors only examines the results of the government and gives a “technical opinion”, which then has to be analyzed by the Congress. It is precisely the Brazilian Congress the one that has the final say regarding the management of public accounts and how the case should be dealt with.