Bolsonaro signs financial aid bill for states, cities

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has signed a bill that provides financial aid to the pandemic-hit states and cities, but vetoed part of it, according to a government gazette.

The financial aid takes various forms, including 60 billion reals ($11 billion) for states and cities in direct transfer and the suspension of debt payments to the central government, Xinhua news agency reported citing the gazette as saying on Thursday.

Bolsonaro’s government is to make four monthly payments of the same size to regional and local governments to pay for measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and cushion its impact on their economies.

The President vetoed a stipulation allowing salary adjustments for public-sector officials, which effectively freezes their earnings until the end of 2021.

The amended bill now goes back to Congress, which will have 30 days to consider the change.

In addition to suspending any salary adjustments, regional and local governments must suspend public bids for new works projects until 2021, and prioritize purchases of goods and services from micro and small businesses, according to the amendment.

With a total of 438,238 COVID-19 cases, Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of infections in the world.

The virus has so far claimed 26,754 lives in the country.