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Brazil sets spending freeze of 42.1B reais for 2017

Brazil laid out plans to freeze 42.1 billion reais in public spending and generate some 16.1 billion in new revenues as the government aims to shore up a 2017 budget deficit target of 139 billion reais.

The move, according to a March 30 statement from the finance ministry, will allow the country to cover a 58.2 billion reais shortfall identified earlier in the month.

The spending freeze amount is about 40% higher than the 30 billion reais that was initially expected. During a press conference, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles attributed the higher amount to the government's decision to postpone a plan to recalculate debt owed by federal governments that would have resulted in savings of about 8.7 billion reais, according to Reuters.

The bulk of the expected new revenues, about 10.1 billion reais, will come from the return of several hydroelectric plants to government control following the end of their respective concession terms. The government can either sell the assets or re-grant the concessions as result. Brazil also expects to garner another 4.8 billion reais by reversing payroll tax exemptions for the "vast majority" of business sectors, and 1.2 billion reais by applying the IOF tax on financial transactions to credit unions in the same manner it does for other financial institutions.

However, the finance minister maintained the measures include "no tax increase in the sense of creating new taxes or raising rates."

As of March 29, US$1 was equivalent to 3.12 Brazilian reais.