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Brazil: One Growth Obstacle after Another

After just eight months in office, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of the left-wing Workers' Party has won congressional approval for economically critical and politically controversial pension and tax reforms. Now, however, da Silva faces a bigger challenge: reviving Brazil's economy.

In 2003's first half, Brazil's economy fell into recession. Most economists expect growth for the entire year to be a miserly 1%. And a governmentlinked research group recently embarrassed ministers by predicting growth of just 0.5% in 2003. Taxes are a serious obstacle to growth. Brazil's tax burden is among the highest in the world, equal to 41.7% of salaries. Reforms now proceeding through Congress will simplify the tax system, but won't reduce the total burden. That will be possible only if interest rates fall and the government can keep spending in check, thereby reducing the amount of money needed to pay its own debts. For now, Brazil's economy is going nowhere.

(By Jonathan Wheatley in São Paulo - adapted. From: Business Week September 10, 2003)

According to the last section of the text, taxation will only be reduced if

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