Since Inauguration, The Bolsonaro Administration Has Made One Retraction Every Day

In his first nine days in office, the president backpedaled on significant policy decisions nine times

Marina Dias
Brasília

During his first nine days as president, Jair Bolsonaro publicly backpedaled on least nine major decisions publicly announced by either him or members of his cabinet.

The average of one backpedal a day shows the senior officers' lack of planning and the president's inattentiveness and lack of assertiveness.

On his first day as president, January 1st, Bolsonaro signed the decree raising the monthly minimum wage from R$ 954 to R$ 998 (US$ 257 to US$ 269). However, the raise was announced hours after Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni assured that the new president would only start working the following day.

Bolsonaro and his cabinet members publicly bumped heads among themselves an unusual amount of times for such an early moment in his term - Roque de Sá/Agência Senado

Last week, Lorenzoni had to publicly retract a previous statement, saying that he "made an error" when he announced that the tax for bank operations would be raised and the income tax rate would be reduced from 27.5% to 25%.

Lorenzoni also made great fanfare of dismissing 320 people from his team that was employed during the Lula and Rousseff administration.

Such a mass lay-off froze ongoing work like the Public Ethics Commission, which lost 16 of its staff of 17.
Days later, they were readmitted so the work would continue.

On Tuesday (8th), General Augusto Heleno, who works as the liaison between the Executive and the Legislative branches, disavowed another statement from Lorenzoni of the announcement of a plan of priority measures.

This dispute between a Brazilian president's political and economic advisors has been a reasonably common thing since the mid-1980s, but it's baffling even to the most experienced Brasília veterans that such friction would appear so early in an administration.

To make matters worse, Bolsonaro has a third group of advisors: the military officers. General Heleno was also too quick to dismiss any news on the installation of a US military base on Brazilian soil.

He also emphatically denied that the government would veto the ongoing merger between Embraer and Boeing, which is still pending the president's green light. Previously, Bolsonaro had expressed some doubt over the deal.

On Wednesday (9th), two backpedals on the same day: the administration went back on the decision of suspending the ongoing Land Reform initiative, and it also undid the changes on a massive textbook purchase order from the Ministry of Education.

There might be more retractions in the future, like the Social Security reform, for example. At one point, Bolsonaro defended a minimum retirement age of 57 years for women and 62 for men.

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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