The Ministry of Defense experienced a drastic cut of approximately 70% in resources allocated to administrative expenses, covering areas such as water, electricity and coffee bills.
The approval of the Budget by President Lula (PT), which included this substantial cut, generated concern among members of the department. There is apprehension that the significant reduction in resources could result in the paralysis of essential daily processes of the ministry if funds are not at least partially restored.
The decision to cut resources was a recommendation from the government itself to the National Congress, aiming to reallocate funds to the New PAC (Acceleration and Growth Program), one of the priorities and main initiatives of the Lula 3 government.
In response, the Ministry of Defense stated that, given the current budgetary conditions, its technicians are looking for alternatives to “guarantee the maintenance of activities and main projects”.
The Ministry of Planning did not comment on the matter.
Although the government announced, the previous week, cuts in resources for parliamentary amendments, the Defense portfolio was spared. However, these resources are specifically intended for deputies and senators and cannot be directed to the ministry’s operational expenses.
Facing a substantial reduction, with an amount of R$42.3 million in cash, the Ministry of Defense had one of the biggest cuts in funding resources compared to the previous year, when it had R$103.6 million for discretionary expenses , including payment for routine assignments, such as outsourced contracts.
Other ministries also suffered cuts, such as the Ministry of the Environment, which lost more than 30% of resources for the maintenance of the central administration, leaving R$34.8 million.
However, it is worth highlighting that this reality was not uniform throughout the Esplanada. Some departments, such as Human Rights, experienced an increase in resources allocated to operations, jumping from R$105 million to R$130 million, thus exceeding the Defense budget.
In total, the government took R$1 billion from Esplanada to spend on routine ministries, leaving around R$11.5 billion remaining.
The year of budget restrictions will lead to a rush among departments to seek more resources. In the case of Defense, according to reports, technicians have already called Múcio to ask the ministry at the Palácio do Planalto.
On Tuesday (30) a meeting of the budget board took place, which defined reallocations of resources or possible openings of extraordinary credit. The chief minister of the Civil House, Rui Costa (PT), the ministers of Finance, Fernando Haddad (PT), of Management, Esther Dweck, and of Planning, Simone Tebet (MDB), are part of this collegiate.
The expectation of Múcio’s interlocutors heard by Folha is that the government will use the R$5.6 billion vetoed by Lula from the amendments to cover the cuts made in ministries — such as Defense itself.
Traditionally, at the beginning of the year, governments make cuts to ministries, which require more resources. Technicians, in turn, point out that it is necessary to wait for the first bimonthly Budget report to get an idea of what can be reviewed in the resources of the departments.
In December, the government was forced to propose a reduction of almost R$11 billion in spending by ministries scheduled for 2024. This was the way found by Palácio do Planalto to avoid a major dehydration of the New PAC.
That month, Congress had planned to reduce resources for Lula’s works program and, in doing so, make room in the Budget for an increase in parliamentary amendments for 2024, the election year.
Lula’s aides then presented a list of cuts to the ministries’ budgets to rebuild the PAC. The cut in Defense funding resources was part of this group and was sanctioned by the president last week.
Despite having maintained the majority of resources from the growth program, investments allocated by the initiative to the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces fell from R$6 billion to R$5.6 billion in 2024.
Government members intend to present a project at the beginning of this year to distribute more money to ministries. The idea is to allocate funds for administrative expenses.
However, this would depend on the approval of the Legislature, which already intends to recover the R$5.6 billion that Lula vetoed in parliamentary amendments last week. In other words, there is already pressure to increase spending.
The cut in military funds occurs amidst the mark of distrust in the relationship between Lula and the Armed Forces, characteristic of his third term as President.
Among Lula’s advisors, there was an assessment at the beginning of his administration that high-ranking officers were committed to Jair Bolsonaro’s (PL) political project. Lula himself signaled that he had seen uniformed participation in the attacks on January 8th.
This year, there was an attempt to demonstrate support for the Armed Forces: the head of state’s first trips in January, in the Northeast regions where the Workers’ Party (PT) has a strong presence, were marked by several commitments linked to military institutions.
The leader participated in a ceremony for the implementation of the Aerospace Technology Park in Salvador, a project designed in collaboration between the Ministry of Defense and the Aeronautics Command. Furthermore, he formalized the signing of the term of commitment for the construction of the Sergeants’ School.
He was also present at the ceremony handing over the position of the Northeast Military Command, held in Recife, where General Kleber Vasconcellos transferred the post to General Maurílio Ribeiro.
With information from SP sheet/MARIANNA HOLANDA