University of São Paulo: Rapporteur amendments are used for values ​​higher than allowed

Rapporteur’s amendments, a type of budget expenditure, have been much criticized and considered a secret budget. Despite being destined to small adjustments in the government budget, they started to take a relevant slice of resources indicated by parliamentarians – this year they total R$ 16.5 billion.

Professor José Maurício Conti, of Economic, Financial and Tax Law at the USP Law School, in an interview with Jornal da USP in Ar 1st Edition , first explained the difference in mandatory expenditures and the issue of the budget cycle, from which these amendments rapporteur are part. “The so-called mandatory expenses are those expenses that you necessarily have to carry out for a number of reasons, for example, paying employees’ salaries.” On the other hand, the budget law, prepared jointly by the Executive and Legislative powers, “is made based on forecasts that may not materialize, for example: did it raise less than what was foreseen in the budget law or there was an intercurrence, as when there was the case of the pandemic, which forces you to reallocate spending.”

parliamentary amendments
Conti continues, explaining that, especially as of amendment 86, of 2015, they began to give more strength to the values ​​that parliamentarians include in the budget law through the so-called parliamentary amendments. “It is a value that, once included in the budget, the possibility for the Executive to change it becomes much more complicated.” With that, according to the professor, the Parliament grew and managed to include or increase its participation in the budget.

Rapporteur’s amendments
A quota for parliamentarians is already established in the budget for carrying out amendments. One of them, the rapporteur’s amendment, has the function of making small adjustments when finalizing the budget proposal. In addition, the rapporteur became the author of the amendment and no longer the parliamentarian. This is because they “began to verify that, in some amendments, parliamentarians have no interest in assuming authorship. They would not like it for a multitude of reasons, of various natures”, emphasizes Conti.

The reasons can be “political, regional interests and even interests, for example, related to the practice of an act of corruption”. The professor exemplifies with the case of an amendment referring to the allocation of a resource to a certain city, to build a bridge, but whose bidding can be rigged. “So, the congressman does not want to assume the authorship of that amendment because, later, when there is an investigation, he will be suspected of having participated.” In this sense, one of the problems refers to the lack of transparency regarding who is the author of the amendment. “The lack of transparency, which was called the secret budget, is this obscurity in the authorship of the amendment”, says Conti.

He also points out that this has always happened. The parliamentarians exchanged the authorship of the amendments among themselves and the rapporteur’s amendments would be to “facilitate and organize this, simply putting it in the report”. In addition, the rapporteur ended up signing amendments of high values, which goes against what is allowed – small adjustments.

Finally, the professor emphasizes that the law must be complied with. Therefore, the problem is to use the rapporteur’s amendments for values ​​beyond those allowed. “It’s made for minor tweaks and isn’t being used for that. And it is also not to be able to cover up or add amendments of all parliamentarians and put the name of the rapporteur”, he ponders.

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