SAO PAULO, July 28 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Finance Minister Joaquim Levy said a key budget target could be raised in 2016 if Congress cooperates with the government’s austerity program.
In an interview with news agency Agencia Estado published on Tuesday, Levy said the primary surplus goal for 2015 could have been cut to 0.4 percent of GDP rather than the 0.15 percent announced last week if Congress had approved the roll back of tax breaks on time. President Dilma Rousseff’s government had initially budgeted a primary surplus of 1.1 percent of GDP.
Levy said the role of Congress so far had been “to weaken the target.”
Still, Levy denied that his goal of shoring up Brazil’s finances with austerity measures had been defeated and said Brazil would achieve the 0.15 percent target this year, a goal he described as “very clear”.
“What can be discussed now is the 2016 target,” he said. “Depending on how we begin the second half of the year it could be higher.”
The government cut the 2016 primary surplus goal to 0.7 percent of GDP from 2 percent originally budgeted. Levy declined to say when the goal could be raised.
The primary budget balance is a closely watched indicator of the government’s savings available for debt payments. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer, Editing by Franklin Paul)