President Jair Bolsonaro filed a Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (ADI) in the Federal Supreme Court (STF) to block a law that provides for the transfer of R$ 3.5 billion from the Fust (Fund for the Universalization of Telecommunications Services) to states and municipalities . The money would be used to install internet in public schools. The Chamber of Deputies overturned Bolsonaro’s veto of the text in June, which led him to sue the Attorney General of the Union (AGU).
Bolsonaro says law violates federal spending ceiling rule
The Union’s attorney-general, André Mendonça, who should take over for Minister Marco Aurélio in the STF, filed a request with the Court on Tuesday morning (6). The PL that requires the government transfer was vetoed by Bolsonaro in March, but the Chamber overturned the veto in June. The rapporteur of the action of the AGU is the minister Dias Toffoli.
For the head of the Federal Executive, the text prepared by parliamentarians is irregular, because it directly infers the functioning of the Public Administration. In addition, Bolsonaro claims that the bill contravenes the budget law of the spending ceiling to which the government is subject – data from the National Treasury show that the Union spent 29.46% of the forecast.
The text approved by the Chamber also violates fiscal expansion rules established during the pandemic, according to Bolsonaro. Amidst the health crisis caused by COVID-19, the Union was authorized to operate under an extraordinary tax regime, which allows it to spend more than those foreseen with measures to combat the effects of the coronavirus.
Finally, the president affirms that the PL that transfers R$ 3.5 billion to install internet in public schools directly threatens the fiscal balance of the Union. In Bolsonaro’s assessment, installing networks in schools is not the most efficient way to universalize Internet access, “especially given the weak counterparts established in the questioned law”.
Minister of Education supports Bolsonaro’s action in the STF
This Wednesday afternoon (7th), the Minister of Education, Milton Ribeiro, said in a public hearing to the Education Commission of the Chamber of Deputies that the MEC (Ministry of Education) is not against connectivity in public schools, but that there are others priorities; he defended the injection of resources into other areas, such as sanitation and electricity.
Citing Bolsonaro’s action in the Supreme Court to prevent the transfer of money to public schools, Milton Ribeiro said: “As soon as the law came into force, the MEC made efforts to establish the procedures for expansion [da rede em escolas] with the necessary transparency.”
This is not the first time the government has opposed the proposal. Last month, the education minister said the law was an “extra difficulty”. “This expense will reach the spending ceiling and I’ll have to cut it somewhere,” Ribeiro said in a hearing at the Chamber.
Law benefits public schools with transfers of R$ 3.5 billion
The proposal to transfer R$ 3.5 billion from Fust to states and municipalities foresees that 1.5 million teachers and 18.3 million students from state and municipal public schools should benefit from the installation of the network. It is a response to the gap in distance learning highlighted by the pandemic.
In November 2020, a survey by Datafolha revealed that 29% of public schools do not have an internet connection, while in 55% of the education network it is not even adequate. The survey was carried out with 1,005 teachers between September and October of last year. The Northeast was the region with the fewest schools connected to an internet network, with 35%.