Brazil's President Says Levy Will Stay as Finance Minister

  • Rousseff says she now has backing of the majority of Congress
  • Lawmakers need to approve financial transaction tax, she says

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff said Joaquim Levy will remain as her finance minister, allaying rumors he would step down because he is losing support for his plan to shore up public accounts.

Rousseff said she disagreed with her mentor and predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva over Levy’s effectiveness. Lula, according to local reports, has criticized Levy in closed meetings, saying he puts too much emphasis on the austerity plan and ignores the need of pro-growth measures.

“I think it’s extremely harmful and negative to the country the speculations about minister Joaquim Levy that happen now and then.” Rousseff told reporters Monday in Antalya, Turkey, where she is attending the G-20 summit. The speculations “force me to systematically come out and reinforce that minister Joaquim Levy is staying where he is.”

Rousseff also urged Congress to approve the creation of a financial transaction tax, and said she now has the backing of the majority in Congress to move ahead with her economic plan.

Brazilian media have repeatedly reported in recent months that Levy will be dismissed, even as the president says he has her full support. The speculation comes as Rousseff’s allies express frustration with the lack of policies to fuel economic growth amid a recession. The minister has complained to Rousseff about the lack of support from within her ruling coalition, according to officials with direct knowledge of his meetings.

“I’m staying until further notice. I think I have the support of President Dilma,” Levy told reporters on Sunday. He traveled to Antalya to accompany Rousseff.

He said that Congress had recently advanced on important bills to help cap spending and boost revenue. Increased fiscal discipline will help set the stage for economic recovery, he said.

Rousseff is resisting pressure from politicians in the ruling coalition and Lula to remove Levy from office, a government official with knowledge of the discussions said Nov. 13. Earlier that day wire service Valor Pro reported that Rousseff was considering whether to replace Levy with former central bank chief Henrique Meirelles.

Asked whether he felt threatened in his job or could be replaced, Levy said, “I’m sailing along.”

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