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  • Members of social movements hold placard during a protest against Brazil

    Members of social movements hold placard during a protest against Brazil's Vice President Michel Temer in front of Jaburu Palace in Brasilia, Brazil April 23, 2016 | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 July 2016

Brazil's interim government is looking to sell off state assets to address a massive budget deficit.

Brazil’s unelected interim President Michel Temer said his government is considering the privatization of two of the country’s busiest airports in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

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"It is possible that we will privatize Congonhas and Santos Dumont, which should give a good sum" of money, Temer said in an interview with the Folha de S.Paulo website, referring to Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo and Santos Dumont in Rio de Janeiro.

The interim government, imposed by the Brazilian Senate, is considering two options for privatizing the airports: one would keeping the government airport authority Infraero as a minority partner while giving most control to private companies, while the other would keep Infraero as the biggest stockholder with 51 percent of shares while private companies would manage the airports.

In both cases such moves would lead to thousands of people losing their jobs, as private contractors would seek to bring in new staff with new contracts and less oversight by the state.

Temer said the sale of state assets and major privatization plans is meant to generate sufficient revenues to meet the fiscal target for 2017, which foresees  a deficit of around US$42 Billion.

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He told Folha that his government is also considering tax hikes and austerity measures if sales of assets do not prove sufficient. "My wish is (taxes) do not increase," he said, "but if there is absolute necessity, (we) have nothing else to do."

A Senate vote suspended Rousseff from office on May 12 for 180 days amid an impeachment trial over allegation of manipulating government budgets, an act her allies argue is not a crime nor an impeachable offense.

The installment of Temer and his all-white-male cabinet as a result of the suspension has swiftly opened the door to a conservative revival and austerity campaign that many fear will erode workers’ rights and the flagship social programs of Brazil's previous elected center-left governments.

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