Brazil’s House speaker sees no need to weaken pension overhaul: media

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s Congress should not water down a proposal to change pension rules in order to have it approved in coming months, House Speaker Rodrigo Maia said in separate newspaper interviews published on Sunday.

Maia’s remarks to newspapers Folha de S. Paulo and O Globo contrast with President Michel Temer admission in an interview that he would weaken his proposed pension overhaul.

It was unclear whether O Globo and Folha interviewed Maia before newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo published Temer’s interview on Saturday.

“I think we will have political conditions to approve it (the pension reform) in coming weeks,” Folha quoted Maia as saying. “Of course, nobody would be able to do a perfect reform, but it can be more than setting a minimum retirement age.”

The unpopular overhaul, the government’s top priority to revive a recession-hit economy, has stalled since Temer was implicated in a major scandal in May.

Congress voted last week to block corruption charges against Temer, triggering hopes of a last-ditch effort to approve the pension changes before the 2018 election starts to dominate public debate and potentially opens rifts in his coalition.

Unions oppose the pension proposal because it would set a minimum age of retirement and cut social security benefits. Economists say it is crucial to balancing Brazil’s budget.

Maia ruled out a presidential bid next year, telling Folha he will run for re-election as a House representative for the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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