Rousseff Supports Brazil Minimum Wage of 543 Reais

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has agreed to raise the minimum wage to 543 reais ($326) per month from the 540 reais that took effect Jan. 1 to compensate for faster inflation last year, the government’s leader in the lower house of congress said.

Rousseff plans to fulfill the government’s accord with unions that established a formula for minimum wage increases equal to inflation, as measured by the INPC price index, plus the gross domestic product growth rate two years earlier, lawmaker Candido Vaccarezza said.

“The government’s decision is that maintaining the agreement with unions is better for the country and for workers,” he said in a telephone interview from London. “It’s a technical formula, and it’s the acceptable one.”

Vaccarezza said he discussed the wage plan yesterday with Rousseff’s liaison to congress, Minister Luiz Sergio Oliveira.

The INPC price index rose 6.47 percent last year, according to the national statistic agency. That’s higher than the 6 percent increase originally proposed by Rousseff’s predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, over the 2010 minimum wage of 510 reais. Since Brazil’s economy contracted in 2009, the agreement requires that any raise needs to be at least in line with inflation.

The government would accept rounding the minimum wage to 545 reais to make it easier for workers and pensioners to withdraw the salary from automatic teller machines, a government official familiar with the discussion said on condition of anonymity because negotiations are still taking place.

Congress will vote on the minimum wage after it resumes work on Feb. 1. Lawmakers may either accept the government’s proposal or enact a bigger increase.