Headquarters of the Central Bank in Brasilia | Photo: Marcello Casal Jr / Agência Brasil
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The Supreme Court (STF) decided this Thursday (26), by majority, that the law granting autonomy to the Central Bank (BC), approved by the National Congress and sanctioned in February this year by President Jair Bolsonaro, is constitutional. . The independence of the BC has been the target of a direct action for unconstitutionality (ADI) filed jointly by PT and Psol. The recognition of autonomy by the STF is a victory for the liberal agenda of the government.
The momentary score of the judgment, which is still pending, is 6 to 2. Judges Luis Roberto Barroso, Dias Toffoli, Nunes Marques, Alexandre de Moraes, Edson Fachin and Cármen voted in favor of maintaining the complementary law 179 / 2021 until now Lucie. Voted against the rapporteur of the dossier Ricardo Lewandowski and Minister Rosa Weber. The Attorney General’s Office (PGR) had also expressed its unconstitutionality.
The law establishes four-year terms for the president and the eight administrators of British Columbia in periods which do not coincide with those of the President of the Republic. And he determines that the names indicated by the Chief Executive must be approved by the Senate.
The BC is no longer attached to the Ministry of the Economy, and is now classified as autarky of a particular nature, characterized by “the absence of any link with the ministry, supervision or hierarchical subordination”.
One of the goals of the change was to protect British Columbia from political party pressure. The autonomy of the Central Bank has been debated in Congress since 1991. Among other functions, it is up to the CB, via the Monetary Policy Committee (Copom), to define the Selic rate, the base interest rate of the economy.
In ADI 6.696, PT and Psol demanded the repeal of the law, alleging the vice of initiative, since, according to the Constitution, the competence to propose the project should be exclusive to the President of the Republic. The bill was presented by Senator Plínio Valério (PSDB-AM). But the majority of STF ministers considered that there was no flaw in the initiative.
How ministers voted in the ruling on the autonomy of the central bank
In a vote given at the start of the trial on Wednesday (25), rapporteur Ricardo Lewandowski voted for unconstitutionality, on the understanding that the rules for admitting and removing leaders from British Columbia cannot be formulated that at the initiative of the President of the Republic, “under penalty of installing undesirable upheavals in the management of the federal public administration, which would be subject to the oscillating moods of members of Congress, captured by more specific events, possibly changing in the short or medium term “.
The Constitution says that it is solely up to the president to propose changes in public administration that affect the system of work of civil servants, appointments, stability and retirement. “I cannot fail to conclude, as does the PGR, that the law, by providing for the appointment of directors, who are members of the administration, by revealing themselves to the parliamentary initiative, violated the Political Charter”, Lewandowski said.
Minister Luís Roberto Barroso voted immediately and opened up the difference. It was based on another article of the Constitution, which delegates to Congress the provisions relating to financial, foreign exchange and monetary matters, financial institutions and their operations. “This is precisely the main area of action of the Central Bank, so I avoid formal unconstitutionality, because I understand that there is no fault of initiative,” he said.
In this Thursday’s session, Alexandre de Moraes agreed that there is no vice of initiative, in particular because Jair Bolsonaro sent to Congress a project very similar to the one approved, which was even annexed to the proposal that was already being processed. “The complementary law has almost identical wording to the bill sent by the president. What got into Congress was pretty much what got out of it. Membership does not seem to me to have the power to distort legislative initiative. It would be different if there was no initiative from the President or if he had approved something totally different. What the president ordered has been approved, ”he said.
Toffoli, Nunes Marques, Fachin and Carmen Lúcia expressed the same understanding. “The addition, which it included, resolved any flaw in the initiative that could circumvent this law. The complementary law is not formally flawed. The presentation of the President’s proposal fulfilled the constitutional requirement, ”said the Minister.