The covid-19 pandemic showed that governments and their services matter. Especially for people who depend on them the most, as we have seen in Brazil, one of the countries with the greatest inequality in the world. And it is in this delicate context that major risks threaten the Brazilian public service, through administrative reform.
The Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC 32), sent by the Federal Government and under debate in the National Congress, could be the occasion for a reform that would modernize the Brazilian State, through the enhancement of public service. But what we have seen are big moves to capture the process, in favor of an authoritarian project of perpetuating power, by forcing the inclusion of police and security apparatus employees in the so-called typical careers.
It is not possible to reduce the discussion of administrative reform to a corporate scavenger hunt aimed at securing political support groups. It is also not appropriate to assign it to an awkward, cold fiscal adjustment exercise. We have to be able to learn from our own history and to formulate proposals for improving public administration. We cannot allow the current adverse circumstances to serve as a pretext for setbacks, the repair of which will cost the country other generations.
It is up to Congress to face these challenges and show that it is living up to its responsibilities, by improving the PEC sent by the Ministry of Economy. It must not admit to making it worse, guided by current political circumstances. When fulfilling this mission, the parliamentarians must build the best available solution, expanding the limit of possibilities to the borders that the country needs to get out of this entropic trance.
It is up to Congress to de-clutter the present, in light of the past and in order to free the future. Parliamentarians must, in their legislative role, reveal themselves as the main pillar of democracy, as they have been throughout the history of this form of government, so precarious and at the same time so superior to all others.
We know that administrative reforms are political documents that arise in times of crisis and questioning of the role of the State. Now, in Brazil, jurists are warning of the need to move towards simpler and less rigid rules, because otherwise they will quickly become obsolete. Researchers advocate a public sector design that rescues a balance of weight and balance between public bureaucracy and politics, as a way to improve performance and fight corruption. Specialists reiterate to exhaustion that stability is not to be confused with untouchability, which the Government dismisses every year, as shown by the statistics of the Comptroller General of the Union, and that the challenge is to regulate dismissal due to performance insufficiency, in a professional and transparent manner. Economists argue that fiscal motivations are important for macroeconomic balance, but that reform driven by austericide motivations will not contribute to a better state.
And in this debate, it is vital to understand that much of the PEC 32 focuses only on the rules for accessing and disconnecting the work links of servers, ignoring the dynamics of the public sector that occur between these two stages. There is a wide field of work for Congress.
What society demands is that the reform of the State and public administration be part of a permanent process of building a better Brazil for all, not just a few. And we have all the conditions to achieve that goal, even in the turbulent circumstances of an actively runaway country.
Gabriela Lotta is a professor at FGV / EAESP; Alketa Pecci is a professor at FGV / EBAPE; Francisco Gaetani he is a professor at FGV / EBAPE and president of the Institute’s Board of Directors Republic.org
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