“Contraband” appears in one third of MPs


By Fábio Zanini, from Brasília Branch, Folha de S. Paulo - 18/04/2005

The government has promoted a "anything goes" when editing provisional measures, often mixing up to three unrelated subjects in the same MP.
According to the opposition and the understanding of experts, the practice demonstrates that there is a violation of the constitutional requirement that establishes that the provisional measure must meet the criteria of relevance and urgency.
A survey carried out by Folha in the last 26 published MPs shows that, in nine of them (more than a third), there was the practice of “smuggling” in the text a theme unrelated to the main object of the provisional measure.
The move has angered MPs, the opposition and the allied base, who see abuse. Some even speak of “debauchery” by the government.


The analysis of some provisional measures illustrates the mix of issues. MP 233, issued on the last day of 2004, is a case in point.
In 48 long articles, the measure deals with the creation of the National Superintendence of Supplementary Pension, linked to the Ministry of Social Security.
Then, abruptly, he changes the subject: Article 49 creates advisory positions for the Ministries of Defense, Sport, Science and Technology and for the National Nuclear Energy Commission.
In article 50 of the same provisional measure, a new theme - the change of name of the National Institute of the Semi-Arid to honor the economist Celso Furtado, who died in November last year.
Another example is that of provisional measure 229, which deals, at the same time, with the allocation of funds obtained from lotteries to football clubs, with rules for the granting of scholarships to amateur athletes and with the extension of the national disarmament campaign.
When debating the matter, Senator Antonio Carlos Magalhães (PFL-BA) did not contain himself: “This measure cannot be voted on. Here football is mixed with disarmament. One thing has nothing to do with the other, ”he said.
"Only if it is disarmament of organized fans," quipped PSDB leader in the Senate, Arthur Virgílio (AM).
MP 227, on the other hand, is dedicated to the creation of the Biodiesel Program, but includes “smuggling” at the end: rules for the import of sports equipment.
Provisional measures were created by the 1988 Constitution to give the government the possibility to quickly implement matters that could not wait for the National Congress to proceed. They replaced the decree-laws, used by governments during the military regime.
Since its inception, however, they have caused controversy.
“The provisional measure was created to be a very exceptional thing, but it is trivialized. The practice of dealing with different subjects in the same MP is proof of that ”, says Flávia Piovesan, professor of constitutional law at PUC (Pontifical Catholic University) in São Paulo.

Locking the staff

The Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva government has already issued 148 provisional measures, an average of 5,38 per month. The number is lower compared to the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, which had a monthly average of 6,8, but it is not enough to hold the mood of parliamentarians.
One of the most upset is the mayor, Severino Cavalcanti (PP-PE), who does not accept the fact that MPs lock the agenda and prevent the voting of deputies' projects. There are currently ten measures waiting to be voted on.
A commission of federal deputies and senators has been formed to study the change in the MPs' rite of conduct and is due to release its preliminary report next week.
“There needs to be a rebalancing of Powers. There is a hypertrophy of the Executive, which is a remnant of the period of the military dictatorship, which translates, among other things, into the unruly edition of MPs ”, says Piovesan.
Government officials often recognize that it is necessary to change the situation, but seek to justify the practice of mixing themes.
“The fact is that the government needs the agility that only the MP provides. But we are open to debate about the change in the interpretation of what is urgent and relevant ”, says the leader of the PT in the Chamber, Paulo Rocha (PA).
The answer does not convince the opposition. “The government adds to the MPs themes that are not relevant. Virtually all of them include job creation, for example, which doesn't need to be done that way ”, says PFL leader in the Chamber, Rodrigo Maia (RJ).

FERNANDA KRAKOVICS, from Brasília Branch, collaborated