Brazil governor wants environmental fund to pay pensions

A major Brazilian daily said Tuesday that the Rio de Janeiro state governor wants to use money earmarked for an environmental fund to cover shortfalls in civil servants’ pensions.

A press officer at Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao’s office confirmed the information published Tuesday by the O Globo newspapers.

The newspaper said the money would cover an expected 2016 pension payment deficit of US$3 billion and that the government has pledged that the Rio de Janeiro state treasury would replace the funds.

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The Rio de Janeiro State Environmental Protection Fund has been used to improve sewage treatment centres and begin cleaning lakes, rivers and Guanabara Bay, a water sports venue for the upcoming Olympic games.

Pezao’s proposal must be approved by the State Legislature.

The newspaper said that because of a drop in oil royalty revenues from the country’s oil fields, money spent on cleanup projects fell 30 per cent last year compared with a year earlier.

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Carlos Minc, Rio de Janeiro’s former environment secretary, told O Globo the governor’s proposal will cause Rio to “take an environmental step backward.”

“The money will not be replaced and the fund will be left with nothing,” he said.