Rousseff Offers Cheap Loans to Brazilian Farmers as Ouster Looms

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff will offer billions of dollars of subsidized loans to small-scale farmers as she struggles to shore up support ahead of an impeachment vote next week.

Rousseff’s administration on Tuesday afternoon will unveil plans to offer 30 billion reais ($8.4 billion) in loans that charge below-market interest rates of 2.5 percent, the Agrarian Development Ministry said in a statement. The funds are part of a program to increase production of basic staples at family-maintained farms that have limited access to commercial credit.

The announcement will come two days after Rousseff said she would increase construction of public housing and boost welfare spending in a bid to solidify support among poorer voters, who have traditionally backed her Workers’ Party. The president is trying to rally her electoral base as the Senate prepares to vote next week on whether to temporarily remove her from office and put her on trial for allegedly doctoring fiscal accounts.

The increased expenditures also would complicate Vice President Michel Temer’s task of shoring up fiscal accounts should he take over the top job, as is widely expected. Temer last week pledged to put "back on track" an economy plagued by a soaring budget deficit, rising unemployment and near double-digit inflation.

Rousseff must leave office for as long as 180 days and stand trial in the Senate if a simple majority of the Senate votes against her next week. The chamber then would need support from two-thirds of its 81 members to impeach Rousseff and terminate her mandate.

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