Brazil's Supreme Federal Court (STF) looked poised Tuesday to bring the existence of confidential funds to an end. According to this mechanism dating back to 2020, a parliamentarian acts each year as budget rapporteur, suggesting federal agencies where and how to spend that money.
STF rapporteur, in this case, had been Justice Rosa Weber, who had ruled against these secret funds and now many of her colleagues have concurred. While waiting for the process to be confirmed Friday with the votes of the rest of the magistrates, Justices Carmen Lúcia Antunes, Luis Roberto Barroso, Edson Fachin, Ricardo Lewandowski and Alexandre de Moraes have voted Tuesday in favor of the suspension, which Weber already ordered last week.
The Congressional secret budgets have been a highly controversial issue, since they contradict the principles of transparency and impersonality required by any budget law. These funds are also believed to have allowed President Jair Bolsonaro to maintain governance within a Congress full of patronage.
It is completely incompatible with the republican form and the democratic regime of government to validate institutional practices adopted in the administrative or legislative sphere that, established outside the law, promote unjustified secrecy on facts pertinent to the collection of income, the realization of expenditures and allocation of public resources, with obvious damage to access to the population and the entities of social control, Weber had said.
Controversy over these secret budgets had been established around Lower House Speaker Arthur Lira, after he was singled out for nepotism by allocating up to R $ 3.8 million (about 600,000 euros) of these funds to the city of Barra de Sao Miguel, where his father, Benedito de Lira, is mayor, and through a public company of the Ministry of Regional Development directed by his cousin Joao José Pereira Filho.
These secret funds were also believed to leave a substantial amount of money in the hands of the President to use for electoral purposes. According to the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), the secret budget scheme was used by Bolsonaro to maintain a loyal support base in Congress and thus prevent impeachment requests against him from going ahead.
Bolsonaro was also believed to have increased these funds, thus creating some sort of parallel, uncontrolled budget. Part of that money will be destined to the Help Brazil program, a social aid scheme devised by the Bolsonaro administration to replace the Bolsa Familia plan created under the Workers' Party (PT).
This parallel budget was said to be worth around US $ 1 billion, according to O Estado de Sao Paulo.