See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Brazil: Salary increase for parliamentarians in discussion

Cherge de Amarildo, used with author's permission

As every end of the year, the Brazilian federal deputies legislated for themselves and approved another salary increase, causing an extensive discussion among Brazilians and reaction in the blogosphere.

Today, a Congressman receives [pt*] R$ 16.512,09 [R$ = Real, Brazilian currency – GV note] only in salary (15 installments per year), which can reach up to R$ 166,512.09 considering the several amounts of extra payments to which he or her is entitled.

*Note: All links refer to Portuguese language posts except when otherwise noted.

Just in terms of salary, excluding additional payments, a parliamentarian earns a little more than 52 times the minimum salary (R$ 510.00) of Brazil, the lowest value that an employer is allowed to pay to its employees, in which the largest part of the Brazilian population can be found.

As a comparison, in 2009, 56.8% of Brazilians lived up to minimum salary and now the parliament discusses the difficulties in raising the minimum to an acceptable level.

Still if we compare the salaries of the Brazilian deputies with the ones of other more developed countries, we see how big the problem is. In the UK, a Parliamentarian earns per year £ 65.738, or about R$ 175 thousand reais, while in the U.S. the same parliamentarian costs $ 174 thousand per year or R$ 292 thousand reais to state coffers.

It is worth noting that the almost 170 thousand reais paid by Brazil for each Federal Deputy (totaling 513) come pretty close to the 175.000 paid to British parliamentarians, who legislate in a country which even by far has not the economic disparities and extreme poverty of Brazil. As for the U.S., despite the considerably higher salary, the Chamber of Deputies (or Representatives) counts on 435 members.

Cristina Rodrigues, from the blog blog Somos Andando [We Are Walking], is straightforward by analyzing the causes and proposing solutions:

É evidente que deputados, como qualquer categoria (ainda que cargos eletivos não sejam exatamente uma categoria profissional) devem ter seus salários reajustados vez que outra. A grande armadilha, por qualquer ângulo que se olhe, está no fato de serem eles mesmos a concederem o reajuste para os próprios salários.

[…]

Para evitar o desgaste de cada votação de aumento e não incorrer em excrescências, o ideal seria vincular o reajuste dos cargos do Legislativo e também os do Executivo, como presidente, ministros, governadores e secretários de estado, ao percentual de reajuste concedido a alguma categoria profissional. Ou, para simplificar, ao valor da inflação. Nesse caso, não seria propriamente um aumento, mas um reajuste apenas para cobrir as perdas.

It is clear that deputies, like any category (although elective positions are not exactly a professional category) should have their salaries adjusted from time to time. The big pitfall, from any angle you look at it, is the fact that they give themselves the re-adjustment to their salaries.

[…]

In order to prevent wear of every salary increase voting and not incur excrescences, the ideal would be to link the adjustment of the positions of the Legislative and also the Executive, as president, ministers, governors and secretaries of state, to the percentage of adjustment granted to some professional category. Or, for simplicity, to the inflation rate. In this case, it would not be exactly an increase, but only an adjustment to cover the losses.

The Federal Deputy Ivan Valente, whose entire party – PSOL – voted against the proposed increase, via Twitter, agrees and adds an alarming data:

@Dep_IvanValente: Nossa idéia é apresentar um projeto p/indexar o aumento à média do reajuste do funcionalismo público. P/ isso é preciso maioria no Congresso

@Dep_IvanValente: Vale lembrar que o aumento, que fomos contra, não foi apenas p/deputados, mas também p/senadores, ministros, presidente e vice-presidente

@Dep_IvanValente: Our idea is to present a project which indexes the increase to the average adjustment for civil servants. For this, it is necessary to be majority in Congress.

@Dep_IvanValente: It's worth remembering that the increase, to which we were against, was not only for deputies, but also for senators, ministers, president and vice-president.

Robson Fernando, from the blog Arauto da Consciência [Herald of Consciousness], ironically congratulates the Deputies:

Parabenizo vocês pela estupenda atitude de aumentar seus salários em mais de 60% em tempo recorde e impor ao Poder Executivo um salário mais de 130% maior. Enquanto o povo sofre pra ter aumentos acima da inflação em seus salários, vossas senhorias, que têm o privilégio de controlar seu próprio salário mesmo contra a vontade do patrão (Presidente), esticam como querem suas remunerações.

Vossas senhorias são um exemplo para o mundo: um exemplo de como se pode governar em prol de interesses particulares e boicotar o interesse público, fazendo o povo sofrer em prol de um bando de marajás.

I congratulate you for your wonderful attitude of increasing your own salaries by more than 60% in record time and impose to the Executive a salary of more than 130% higher. While the nation suffers to have salary raises above inflation, Your Lordships, who have the privilege of controlling their own salary even against the will of the boss (the President), increasing their salaries as you wish.

Your lordships are an example to the world: an example of how to rule in favor of special interests and boycott the public interest, making the people suffer for the sake of a bunch of Maharajas.

He also posted the e-mail of all parliamentarians who voted for the increase of their own salaries, and the blog Pragmatismo Político [Political Pragmatism]  published a list containing each federal deputy's vote.

Leonardo Sakamoto, in his blog, harshly criticizes the increase, stating that parliamentarians should earn just the enough to “fulfill with dignity the office for which they have been elected” and, if the intention is to enrich, they should “move into the private sector”:

Sabe o que me deixa mais tiririca da vida do que aumento salarial no apagar das luzes do ano, feito a toque de caixa? É que os nobres parlamentares não usam a mesma celeridade para discutir temas que parecem não ser do seu interesse. Se pelo menos tivessem o mesmo empenho que têm por si, pelos amigos ou por seu pequeno grupo social, poderíamos dizer: “ah, eles ganham, mas trabalham para a sociedade em geral”.

Do you know what drives me mad more than the salary increase at the very end of the year, performed in a fast way and without any previous study? It is that the noble parliamentarians do not use the same speed to discuss issues that seem not to be of their interest. If only they had the same commitment that they have for themselves, friends or their small social group, one might say: “Oh, they earn (a lot), but work for society in general”.

André Raboni, from the blog Acerto de Contas [Settlement of Accounts], repudiates the salary increase indicating its percentage, and calls one's attention to the “ripple effect” on other powers:

Os congresso brasileiro aprovou hoje um aumento salarial que é um verdadeiro escárnio contra o País. O decreto tramitou numa velocidade estonteante ao longo do dia, e foi aprovado com regime de urgência na Câmara e depois no Senado. Os salários dos parlamentares foram reajustados de 16,5 mil para 26,7 mil Reais (um aumento de 61,8%), e também terá o mesmo valor os salários do presidente, do vice-presidente e dos ministros (aumento de 133,9%).

[…] O efeito cascata deverá vir logo: aumentos para deputados estaduais, vereadores, governadores, prefeitos, juízes federais, desembargadores, et cetera.

The Brazilian Congress approved today a salary increase which is a true mockery against the country. The decree proceeded at a breakneck pace throughout the day, and was approved within an emergency regime in the House and then in the Senate. The salaries of legislators were increased from 16.5 thousand to 26.7 thousand reais (an increase of 61.8%), and the salaries of the president, vice-president and ministers will also have the same value (increase of 133 9%).

[…] The ripple effect shall come soon: increases for state deputies, city councilors, governors, mayors, federal judges, appellate court judges, et cetera.

Eduardo Guimarães from the blog Cidadania [Citzenship], on the other hand, agrees with the raise:

Ora, é óbvio que um político detentor de mandato eletivo passa a ter um orçamento doméstico e pessoal maior, pois seu padrão de vida sobe até pela importância do cargo, situação que não se coaduna com a necessidade de poupar para que não morra de fome se ao fim do mandato de quatro anos não for reeleito. E até para ter como bancar a própria campanha eleitoral seguinte sem recorrer a dinheiro de origem duvidosa.

[…]

Os baixos salários oficiais dos políticos acabam se tornando “razão” para que alguns caiam na tentação de se resguardarem contra a possibilidade de não conseguirem se reeleger, para que não voltem à planície do setor privado tendo que recomeçar a vida do zero.

It is obvious that a politician holder of an elective office will have from now on a personal and household budget increased, as their standard of living rises to the importance of the position, a situation that is inconsistent with the need to save so they do not starve if at the end of the term of four years they are not reelected. And even afford their own very next election campaign without resorting to money of dubious origin.

[…]

The low official salaries of politicians eventually become “reason” for some to fall into the temptation to guard against the possibility of failing to be reelected, not to return to the private sector having to start life from scratch.

Writing for the blog Trezentos [Three hundred], Uirá replied to Guimarães’ post, opposing his arguments.

In another post, Raboni calls the population to protest and asks for transparency regarding the expenses of parliament and judiciary members.

Se o nobre leitor se dignar a contestar o aumento, envie um e-mail, uma mensagem, um tweet, qualquer coisa, para o seu deputado, e questione-o sobre o aumento.

[…]

Que cada parlamentar dê transparência a tudo o que gasta (de preferência sem notas frias…) usando a internet (que barateia custos e aproxima os cidadãos) e que preste contas não apenas aos seus eleitores, mas a todas as pessoas.

E que isso sirva também ao judiciário, que foge da publicidade de seus custos como a diplomacia norte-americana foge de Assange. Cobre de seu parlamentar não apenas uma explicação sobre este aumento: cobre exija que ele cobre transparência de todos os gastos de dinheiros públicos.

If the noble reader has the kindness to oppose the raise, please send an e-mail, message, tweet, anything, to your deputy, and question him/her about the raise.

[…]

That each parliamentarian give transparency to all that she/he expends (preferably without fake notes…) using the Internet (which lowers costs and brings the citizens together) and be accountable not only to their constituents, but to everyone.

And that this also happen to the judiciary, which flees from the advertisement of their costs as American diplomats flees from Assange. Demand of your parliamentarian not only an explanation for this raise: demand, require that he demand transparency of all public funds expenses.

In 2011, the expected ripple effect of wages has been confirmed. At least 26 state legislatures have already pledged to increase its members’ salary, based on the federal assembly increase. Meanwhile, parliamentarians fight like cats and dogs to increase the minimum wage from R$ 510.00 to R$ 540.oo. In the meantime, few citizens mobilize in the streets.

This article was proofread by Daniel Fernandes.

1 comment

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site