Brazilian lawmakers on
Wednesday moved a step closer to passing a long-delayed measure
key to preparations for the 2014 World Cup, breaking a
gridlock in Congress that threatened to delay President Dilma
Rousseff's legislative agenda this year.
The lower house of deputies voted in favor of the bill after
Rousseff appeared to bow to pressure from lawmakers of her
unruly coalition to release some frozen cash for their pet
projects. The bill still needs to be debated in the senate.
Rousseff has agreed to unlock millions of reais in
discretionary funding to lawmakers starting this month, two
congressman told Reuters earlier on Wednesday. She also agreed
to allow a vote on a controversial forest bill that has pitted
conservationists against big farmers.
Rousseff has sought to ease tensions with allied lawmakers
whom for weeks refused to vote on key legislation, casting a
shadow over the future of crucial bills including an overhaul of
the country's mining code and the allocation of oil royalties.
Closing ranks around Rousseff, the senate approved earlier
on Wednesday a bill that limits pension benefits for new public
workers, which the government hopes will help the state save
billions of reais over the coming decades.
The lower house vote in favor of the World Cup bill not only
eases tensions within the ruling coalition, but may also help
mend frayed ties between the government and world's soccer
governing body, FIFA.
The bill, which has been years in the making, provides a
legal framework for the organization of the tournament and its
curtainraiser, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
However, the main point of contention, the sale of alcoholic
beverages in World Cup stadiums, may be close to resolution.
The legislation lifts a federal ban on the sale of alcohol
at games. However, the issue may remain a point of
contention if host states decide to ignore the lifting of the
ban, some lawmakers warned.
The measure also provides for the allocation of discounted
tickets to students, pensioners and indigenous people in
accordance with Brazilian law. And it sets rules for the sale of
FIFA merchandise during the tournament.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke infuriated Brazilians
by saying organizers needed "a kick up the backside" over slow
preparations for the tournament.
Both sides have since improved ties, but FIFA officials
still have concerns about the building of stadiums and key
infrastructure like airports, which is behind schedule.
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