Brazil’s economy will emerge from its worst recession on record in the first quarter of this year, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said in an interview with Bloomberg News and TV.
Latin America’s largest economy is estimated to have grown 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter in the three months ending in March, Meirelles said in an interview with Bloomberg TV and News in Washington D.C. He expects the economy to expand 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.
He also said that the government had not much room for further concessions on its key pension reform bill currently being discussed in Congress. “We’re at the limit or very close to the limit,” he said, adding that the government wants to ensure the pension overhaul results in savings of at least 600 billion reais ($190 billion). If the bill passes as it currently stands the government estimates savings of 630 billion reais.
In a separate interview with Bloomberg News, Meirelles ruled out any tax increases, saying that revenue was more likely to surprise on the upside. He said the extraordinary income will include fees from oil and gas tenders.
President Michel Temer’s administration is in an uphill battle to convince investors it can dig the economy out of recession while bolstering public finances through austerity. That task has proven far from easy as policy makers slash growth estimates and confront stiff resistance to their flagship pension overhaul.
In the Bloomberg TV interview Meirelles defended himself from charges that previous government forecasts were too optimistic, adding that market analysts had similarly underestimated the depth of Brazil’s recession.
Companies that were deleveraging last year exacerbated the country’s slump, he said, but were now bouncing back.
Economists surveyed by the central bank forecast gross domestic product to expand 0.4 percent this year.