By Dow Jones Business News, March 01, 2013, 02:04:00 PM EDT
SAO PAULO--Brazil's weak economic growth last year was the result of "self-delusion" that prevented the government
from taking bolder steps, said Senator Aecio Neves, the likely candidate for one of Brazil's leading opposition parties
in next year's presidential election.
Brazil reported on Friday that its gross domestic product expanded just 0.9% last year, a drop from the already-weak
2.7% growth seen in 2011. In a note, Mr. Neves blamed President Dilma Rousseff and her party, the PT, for the weak
"Had the PT government taken a better measure of the situation already in 2012, it's possible that our economy
wouldn't have had such a negative performance," he said in an emailed statement on Friday.
Despite early signs that the economy was struggling, "the government of Dilma Rousseff countered that with forecasts
that were as optimistic as they were unrealistic."
Mr. Neves has received backing to represent the PSDB party in next year's presidential election from former president
and fellow PSDB member Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Mr. Cardoso was succeeded in 2003 by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, also
of the PT.
During all of last year, the government unveiled multiple tax breaks and took steps to weaken the currency to make
exports more attractive. Meanwhile, the central bank slashed its benchmark rate to a record low of 7.25%, even as
inflation remained persistently above the government's 4.5% target. Still, the strong recovery expected in the second
half of 2012 never materialized as global and domestic uncertainties caused local companies to rein in investments.
Ms. Rousseff's government has predicted economic growth of 4.5% in Brazil this year, a figure economists say is
optimistic at best, and she and other top officials have said repeatedly on recent occasions that a recovery is under
way. The current consensus figure for 2013 growth, as reported by a weekly central bank survey of economists, is just
Write to Paulo Winterstein at firstname.lastname@example.org
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