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Brazil economy minister threatens to quit if pension reform diluted -report

Credit: REUTERS/ADRIANO MACHADO

Brazil's Economy Minister Paulo Guedes will step down if his ambitious plans to overhaul the country's social security system are watered down to a "little reform," he said in an interview published on magazine Veja's website on Friday.

BRASILIA, May 24 (Reuters) - Brazil's Economy Minister Paulo Guedes will step down if his ambitious plans to overhaul the country's social security system are watered down to a "little reform," he said in an interview published on magazine Veja's website on Friday.

"I'll get on a plane and I'll live abroad. I'm old enough to retire," he said, according to the report. "If we do not reform, Brazil will catch fire. It will be chaos in the public sector," he said, predicting that Brazil could go broke in 2020.

Guedes, who is seen as the economic heavyweight in President Jair Bolsonaro's administration, has taken the lead on selling pension reform to the country, although with mixed results. The proposal is still unpopular with ordinary Brazilians and has yet to win the necessary support of politicians in Brasilia.

The bill wending its way through Congress aims to save 1.237 trillion reais ($307 billion) over a decade by raising the retirement age and increasing workers' contributions. The government says it is vital to reviving the lackluster economy.

Guedes said on Thursday he is confident the bill could be approved in 60 days, and that it will pack a heavy fiscal punch.

In his interview with Veja, Guedes acknowledged there will be room for negotiation, which could reduce eventual savings to 800 billion reais. But he warned that anything below that could send him to the exits.

The Economy Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Link to interview in Portuguese: https://veja.abril.com.br/politica/aposta-no-tudo-ou-nada/

(Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

((jamie.mcgeever@thomsonreuters.com; +55 (0)61 3426 7015; Reuters Messaging: jamie.mcgeever.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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