Brazil committee passes civil service reform bill that trims employee payroll growth

FILE PHOTO: A man walks near the National Congress building, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil, March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Legislation aimed at reducing the size of the Brazilian state and trimming the growth of public payrolls cleared the committee stage in the lower chamber of Congress on Thursday in a significant advance for the government's reform agenda.

Despite opposition objections, the measure amends the country's constitution to loosen guarantees for public servants, toughening performance criteria and allowing the contracting of temporary employees for up to 10 years.

Because it is a constitutional amendment, it will require three-fifths of the votes in the plenary, or 308 of its 513 members, though lawmakers are optimistic it will muster the needed support because of the burden of government payrolls on its budget deficit.

The main text passed by a special congressional committee makes it easier to open administrative processes against employees with unsatisfactory performances and to eliminate obsolete positions, a provision fiercely opposed by civil servant labor unions.

"We are proud to back this reform that will modernize our public services," said Congressman Marcel Van Hattem of the center-right Novo Party, adding "we just have to reform the state."

(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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