If only Brazil would cut more public sector perks and less rain forest…

After such depressing reading about the Amazon in last weeks Economist it is good to read this week (10 Aug p 35) about the successful running of the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo. Under the governorship of Paulo Hartung, from 2003 to 2010 and 2015 to 2018 the books were balanced. His aim was to reduce spending by 14%. He eliminated 12% of government jobs, most of them temporary ones. (It is much harder to cut permanent ones in Brazil). He stood up to a strike by the police.


This contrasts with Brazil overall where the number of civil servants grew by 60% between 1995 and 2016. Public sector workers generally are immune from dismissal or pay cuts. Nearly 80% of government spending in Brazil goes on salaries and pensions compared with a global average of 50-60%.


The Brazil Supreme Court will soon decide whether to allow indebted states to cut civil servant salaries and hours.


Dictatorships are worse but democracies can be hard to defend sometimes! Paolo Hartung and those like him should be better known