Brazil's debt set to rise fast this year

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Brazil's public debt is likely to expand in double digits this year even with the benchmark Selic rate at a historic low, highlighting the urgent need for government measures to cut spending.

The federal government's overall debt is expected to reach 4.3tn reais (US$1.14tn) this year, representing a rise of 11% from 2018, according to the treasury.

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By comparison, last year, the debt increased 8.9% to 3.8tn reais.

The increasing mountain of debt will add pressure on the government of business-friendly President Jair Bolsonaro to secure congressional approval of a highly unpopular pension reform.

In past years, the expansion of public debt was generally attributed to Brazil's high level of interest rates but the Selic is today at a record low of 6.5%. The bloated pension system has instead become the main reason for the growing debt.