In his first news conference as Finance Minister, Brazil’s Henrique Meirelles said Friday the administration’s top priorities are fighting down inflation and reducing government deficits. Inflation is currently running at over 9%, far above the government’s target range for 2016 of 2.5% to 6.5%. Meirelles said, “Fiscal and monetary policy will work together against inflation.” On the monetary side, Meirelles said the government will name a new Central Bank President on Monday. Highly touted for the job is Banco Itau Chief Economist Ilan Goldfajn. On the fiscal side, Meirelles said, “Our overall goal is to reduce the level of taxation. However, if new taxes are needed they will be put in place but they will be temporary.” Brazil is currently facing a likely 2016 primary budget deficit of nearly R$100 billion. Meirelles said the government will cut spending, including thousands of appointive positions in the administration, in an effort to meet what he called “realistic fiscal goals.” He said the government will propose a broad social security reform in the near future, one which will likely set a minimum retirement age. The retirement system is responsible for a large portion of Brazil’s annual deficit.
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