RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday at a ceremony on the naval base in Rio de Janeiro that the pension reform being pushed by his administration to make the country’s public accounts healthier will demand sacrifices from the armed forces.
“I also want a sacrifice (from the military). We will adopt a new ... retirement regime that will also affect the armed forces. But we will not leave to the side, we will not forget the specifics of each force,” said the president in the speech he delivered at the ceremony commemorating the 211th anniversary of the Naval Sharpshooters Corps.
The president, a captain in the army reserve whose cabinet includes about half a dozen top military officers, was referring to including the troops in a new retirement and pension system two weeks after presenting a bill to Congress to reform the current pension system that does not specify anything regarding armed forces members.
Bolsonaro has promised to send another bill to Congress to regulate the pensions and retirement of members of the military, but he has not done so yet.
Some lawmakers have warned that they will only begin debating the retirement reform after Bolsonaro presents the additional bill affecting the troops since the proposal will demand sacrifices from all Brazilians but does not curtail the privileges enjoyed by the military.
Bolsonaro did not specify what each of the three military branches – army, navy and air force – would be required to accept, but he did insist that there will be no “privileges” for any given sector.
The bill for a constitutional amendment presented by the government makes access requirements for pensions more stringent with the aim of getting control of the fiscal deficit that is strangling the state, and its approval is considered by the market to be a vital prerequisite for renewed economic growth.
One of the most novel elements in the proposal is establishing a minimum age for retirement, a requirement that has not existed before in Brazil and which would set retirement age for women at 62 and for men at 65.
Bolsonaro said in his speech that he also hopes that the soldiers will help to prepare a bill regulating the participation of the military in public safety operations in Brazil’s cities.
He said that his government, for now, will not authorize this kind of intervention because current law establishes penalties for soldiers found to be responsible for deaths in these operations independent of whether or not they are justified.
“What I want of these gentlemen, my brother soldiers, is for them to discuss, listen and debate, especially with the defense minister, a legal rearguard action so that they can do their job well, especially on extraordinary missions that are assigned to the troops,” he said.
The Thursday ceremony was the first public act in which Bolsonaro has participated since the controversy that arose after he posted an obscene video on Twitter criticizing the excesses at Carnival.