Brazilian congress breaks gridlock on legislative agenda including “FIFA bill”
Brazilian lawmakers on Wednesday moved a step closer to passing a long-delayed measure key to preparations for the 2014 soccer World Cup, breaking a gridlock in Congress that threatened to delay President Dilma Rousseff's legislative agenda.
The lower house voted in favour of the bill after Rousseff appeared to bow to pressure from lawmakers of her unruly coalition to release some frozen cash for their pet projects. The bill still needs to be debated in the Senate.
Rousseff has agreed to unlock millions in discretionary funding to lawmakers starting this month and also is willing to allow a vote on a controversial forest bill that has pitted conservationists against big farmers.
Rousseff has sought to ease tensions with allied lawmakers whom for weeks refused to vote on key legislation, casting a shadow over the future of crucial bills including an overhaul of the country's mining code and the allocation of oil royalties.
Closing ranks around Rousseff, the Senate approved earlier on Wednesday a bill that limits pension benefits for new public workers, which the government hopes will help the state save billions over the coming decades.
The lower house vote in favour of the World Cup bill not only eases tensions within the ruling coalition, but may also help mend frayed ties between the government and world's soccer governing body, FIFA.
The bill, which has been years in the making, provides a legal framework for the organization of the tournament and its curtain-raiser, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
However, the main point of contention, the sale of alcoholic beverages in World Cup stadiums, may be close to resolution. The legislation lifts a federal ban on the sale of alcohol at soccer games. However, the issue may remain a point of contention if host states decide to ignore the lifting of the ban, some lawmakers warned.
The measure also provides for the allocation of discounted tickets to students, pensioners and indigenous people in accordance with Brazilian law. And it sets rules for the sale of FIFA merchandise during the tournament.