Brazil refuses foreign donations to the Environment | WWF

Brazil refuses foreign donations to the Environment

Posted on 10 December 1998    
Background: A national budget proposal was sent to Congress by the newly re-elected Brazilian Government. Severe economic measures were already expected in order to face the world financial crisis and to reduce the budget deficit. However, the Ministry of Environment suffered one of the deepest cuts and, what is even more relevant, these cuts affected primarily conservation programs, including some for which major funds come from foreign donations. Meanwhile, new development programs within the same ministry will receive new funds. In response, WWF Brazil distributed the following press release:

In order to meet budget targets set with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Brazilian Government decided to refuse US$ 25 million of foreign donations for the environmental area in 1999. This decision was taken in the context of cuts made in environmental areas in the budget proposal sent by the President to the Congress.

Environmental programs supported by foreign donations were not maintained in this budget proposal. As a result, public pledges made by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso become unfeasible. The Program for Expansion and Consolidation of Protected Areas in the Brazilian Amazon Region, for instance, received a 100% cut.

The Pilot Program for Conservation of Brazil's Rainforests was cut by 89.6%, with important social consequences since a significant portion of the resources are destined to support resource management initiatives by traditional Amazonian populations. This in spite of the fact that 80% of the funds for this program come from donations by the Group of Seven richest countries in the world, the G-7.

The total cut of 65.8% in investments in the environment in this budget proposal could affect the very viability of the Ministry of the Environment. Priority actions such as the National Environment Program (PNMA) simply disappeared in the budget proposal made by the Government. The impact in the long run of these budget cuts on nature conservation is beyond reckoning, said WWF-Brazil's Executive Director, Garo Batmanian. He points out that the capability of monitoring and implementing the government's environmental policies, which was already quite limited, will be inexorably affected.

To try and revert this situation, WWF-Brazil wrote a letter to President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, asking him to reconsider the above-mentioned budget cuts and to retain foreign donations previously accepted by the Government. Copies of this letter were sent to the Minister of Finance, Pedro Malan, and to the Minister of Planning, Paulo Paiva.

The major cuts in the budget of the Environment Ministry were made exactly in the conservation programs, while other investments concerning development programs were maintained. For example, new programs will be created when the new budget is approved by Congress, such as the Sustainable Development Program for the Pantanal, the Molecular Biotecnology Program for the Amazon Region (Probem), and the Development of Ecotourism in the Amazon Region Program (Proecotur). New funds were provided for all of them in the Executive's proposal.

Latest update: December 16, 1988

Brazilian Congress has agreed to examine the possibility of recovering funds from international donations for the Environment in Brazil. The funds had been cut off in the Executive's proposal for the federal 1999 budget. According to a letter sent by the Ministry of the Environment to representative Josi Lourengo (in charge of reporting the matter in the House of Representatives), the Government requests the reintegration of R$ 15,000,000 (13,000,00 from foreign donations and 2,000,000 being the Brazilian counterpart) to the Brazilian Tropical Forests Protection Pilot Project (PPG7) and of R$ 3,000,000 to the Biodiversity National Program (Pronabio). Nevertheless, no proposal was made referring to the Environment National Program (PNMA) nor to the protection of at least 10% of Brazilian forests presidential pledge (Forests for Life Campaign). A copy of the letter was handed to WWF-Brazil executive director Garo Batmanian by Environment Minister Gustavo Krause during their meeting yesterday afternoon.

For more information, please contact Ulisses Lacava, Head Communications Officer in WWF-Brazil +55-61-248.2899

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