Address by President Dilma Rousseff During a Meeting with Brazilian Governors and State Capital Mayors
Good afternoon all. Let's begin this meeting of Governors and Mayors... I would like to start by wishing you all a good day and greeting the honorable Governors and Mayors.
First, I want to thank you for your presence and your immediate compliance with my invitation to debate the delicate moment the country is experiencing. More than to debate, we are here to search for, highlight, and identify solutions. We seek answers, all republican and participatory, to the problems that concern and mobilize the Brazilian people.
In recent years Brazil has been undergoing a clear and uninterrupted change process, perhaps the largest in our history. We have combined economic stability and broad democratic freedom with economic growth and massive job creation. We have what is possibly the lowest unemployment rate in the world.
Innovative public policies have allowed the inclusion of 40 million people through an intense inequality-reducing process. The country is no longer governed only for a third of its population. It is now governed for all of its people.
Under these conditions, Brazil has created a large mass consumption market and advanced in the construction of citizenship. The people are now on the streets, telling us that they want the changes to continue, to go further, to go even faster. They are telling us that they want more citizenship, they want full citizenship. The streets are telling us that the country wants quality public services; that they want more efficient mechanisms to fight corruption that ensure the proper use of public money; that they want political representation that permeates a society where, as I said before, citizenship - and not economic power - is put first and foremost.
It is great that the people are saying all this loud and clear. It is up to each of us - President, Ministers, Governors and Mayors - to fulfill this new and decisive dimension of popular will.
We all know where the problems are. We all know that we can build solutions. But we also know the countless difficulties in solving them. I myself have faced many barriers ever since assuming the Presidency, but the energy that comes from the streets is greater than any obstacle. Together with the people, we can solve big problems. There is no reason to stand inert, complacent or divided.
Thus, my fellow Governors and fellow Mayors, I have brought us concrete proposals and the political will to build at least five pacts for Brazil. The first pact is for fiscal responsibility, to ensure economic stability and inflation control. This is a perennial pact for all of us. This is a particularly important dimension in the present moment, when the prolonged global economic crisis still punishes, with volatility, all nations.
The second pact is for building a deep and comprehensive political reform that broadens popular participation and the horizons of citizenship. This topic, as we all know, has been in and out of the country's agenda multiple times, and it is necessary that we, in realizing that it has indeed gone in and out of focus several times, take the initiative to break the impact. At this moment, I want to propose a debate for the initiation of a referendum to authorize establishing a specific constituent process that would implement the political reform the country so badly needs. Brazil is ripe to move forward, and has made it clear that it does not want to stand still.
We must also prioritize the fight against corruption in an even more impactful way than is already being done in all sectors. In this sense, a key initiative is a new law that classifies willful corruption as equivalent to a heinous crime, with severe, much more severe, penalties. In addition, all administrative levels of all branches of government must strive to expedite the full implementation of the Access to Information Act, which gives government leaders more tools to fight corruption and helps ensure citizen participation.
The third step is related to healthcare. I want to propose that you accelerate investments that have already been earmarked for hospitals, UPAs (Emergency Care Units) and basic health units. For example, I want to propose that more philanthropic hospitals adhere to the program that exchanges debts for more healthcare services and that doctors are encouraged to go to the cities and regions that need them most.
Where Brazilian physicians are unavailable, we will hire foreign professionals to work exclusively in the Unified Healthcare System.
On that last point, I know we will face a good democratic debate. At first, I would like to say to the Brazilian medical community that this is not, even remotely, a hostile or disrespectful measure towards our professionals. This is an emergency-driven, isolated initiative, taken in view of the great difficulty we are facing to find physicians in sufficient numbers or who are willing to work in remote areas of the country or the poorest areas of our major cities.
We will always offer any vacancies to be filled by Brazilian doctors first, and only then call foreign doctors to fill them. But it must be clear that the health of our citizens must prevail over all other interests.
Brazil remains one of the countries with the lowest foreign doctor employment rates in the world. For example, 37 percent of doctors working in England have graduated abroad. In the United States, 25 percent. In Australia, 22 percent. Here in Brazil, only 1.79 percent of our doctors are foreign. Meanwhile, there are regions in our country where the population has no healthcare. This cannot continue.
We know better than anyone that we will not improve public health simply by hiring doctors, be they Brazilian or foreign. Therefore we will take a series of measures, together with you, to improve the physical conditions of our healthcare network and the entire working environment available to current and future professionals. At the same time, we're moving forward with the greatest program in history for the expansion of vacancies in medical degrees and specialized training courses. This means, among other things, the creation of 11,447 new undergraduate positions and 12,376 new residency positions for Brazilian medical students by 2017.
The fourth pact is aimed at taking a leap of quality in public transport in our major cities, thus changing the framework of our transportation system: build more subways, light rail transit tracks and bus lanes; move faster towards high-quality and affordable public transportation. The federal government has already waived taxes, which allowed the reduction of bus fares by 7.23 percent and of subway and train fares by 13.75 percent. Furthermore, we have kept the fares charged by subways and trains operated by the federal government frozen since 2003. We have also waived the IPI tax for the purchase of buses. We are now ready to expand the exemptions for the PIS/COFINS tax on the diesel used by buses and the power consumed by subways and trains. This process can be strengthened by states and municipalities with exemptions for their own taxes. I'm sure the ladies and gentlemen present here will be sensitive to this issue.
Also, I have decided to commit an additional R$ 50 billion to new investments in urban mobility works. This decision is an answer to the plea for better transportation in our country, where large cities are growing and where, in the past, there was an incorrect choice to not invest in subways. Only very recently – over the last decades – have subways become a means of transportation recognized as in need of investment. I am certain that over recent years Brazil has seen major investments in the area of urban collective transportation, and we are very proud, together with the honorable Governors and Mayors, to have been a part of this major effort.
Our pact must, therefore, also ensure wide participation from society in the political discussion of transport, greater transparency and social control over the calculation of bus fares. For that purpose, I am hereby creating the National Council for Public Transport, with participation from civil society and the users of public transportation. The creation of similar Councils in municipalities and metropolitan areas where they do not exist will be extremely important.
I conclude with the Pact for Public Education. No nation has developed without literacy at the right age and without day care facilities for the population that needs it most; without full-time education; without vocational training; without universities of excellence; without research, science and innovation. The training, valuation and appropriate compensation for educators are essential conditions for such targets to be achieved, and these require resources.
We have taken great strides in recent decades to reverse the century-old delay of our education system, but now - I repeat - we need more resources. Therefore my government has strived, with the National Congress, to ensure that 100 percent of oil royalties and 50 percent of the pre-salt resources are received by the municipal governments, the federal government, the municipalities, and the Union [note: the legal entity representing the federal government] to be invested in education. I trust that the honorable congressmen will approve this bill being processed in the legislature with constitutional urgency.
My dear friends,
I have coordinated, and in recent times have given great emphasis to the issue of education. I believe we all know that it transforms; that this effort for education transforms a country into a developed nation. There has been no country in the world that did not undertake this effort for education and reached the status of a developed country.
I would also like to say here that, throughout this process, this has been an issue that received a lot of sympathy from Governors and Mayors. I believe this is an effort that we must undertake to promote significant changes in the short, medium and long terms for our country.
Dear Governors and Mayors,
I have condemned and warned on national television last week that my government will not compromise in the maintenance of law and order, curbing the actions by troublemaking vandals who try to disturb the peaceful nature of the demonstrations.
I reiterate that disposition before you now, and reaffirm my commitment to help you however necessary to ensure peace and tranquility to our cities.
But more than all else, I want to repeat that my government is hearing the democratic voice, the democratic voices that come out and emerge from the streets and that call for change. We must learn to hear the voice of the streets. Only that voice may propel us to move even faster.
We must, all of us, without exception, understand these signs with humility and accuracy. This goes not only for us, government leaders, but also for the Brazilians who are in their homes and those who took to the streets.
If we make good use of the momentum and energy of this new politics, we can do much more, and faster. It is up to us to draw more strength from this moment and use it to do more for Brazil, and much more for Brazilians.
Before thanking you for your attention and for your attendance at this event in a manner so deliberately engaged to solving the problems of our country, I would like to ask two Ministers of my government to provide quick clarifications on this pact for health and on this pact for urban mobility and collective mass transport. And I would suggest, soon after, that we start our meeting and our discussion by giving the floor, for a certain time, to the honorable Governors and Mayors. We are at least 54 to have the floor, 27 Governors and 27 Mayors. Actually, 26 Mayors, because Brasilia has no Mayor. So we are 53.
And then we'll have to agree on a time slot for everyone to speak, or at least to have some sort of representation per region and for the parties that make up the group here present.