Brazil to earmark USD 25 bn for public transport
Brasilia: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has proposed to earmark USD 25 billion for public transport following days of mass nationwide street protests, in a bid to seize the political initiative.
She suggested on Tuesday a referendum on broad "political reform" in response to public exasperation with substandard public services and rampant official corruption in Brazil, the world`s seventh largest economy.
The president also warned against any repeat of the violence and vandalism that marred Thursday`s protests, which brought 1.2 million people to the streets across the country to demand a better of quality life.
Brasilia will allocate "50 billion reais (USD 25 billion) in new investments for urban mobility projects" and "to improve public transport in our country," Rousseff said after crisis talks with protest leaders and regional officials.
She also stressed the need for fiscal responsibility and for boosting investments in health and education as demanded by the throngs of Brazilians who have taken to the streets over the past two weeks.
Brazil`s unrest initially focused on transport fares before mushrooming to encompass a variety of gripes against Rousseff`s leftist government, including criticism of the huge cost of staging the 2014 World Cup.
The protests coincide with the Confederations Cup tournament being held in six Brazilian host cities as a dry run for next year`s World Cup. Brazil has spent USD 15 billion to stage the two events.
Yesterday, Rousseff met in Brasilia with state governors, city mayors and protest leaders, including representatives of the Free Pass Movement (MPL), which successfully forced authorities in several cities, including Sao Paulo and Rio, to cancel mass transit fare hikes.
"My government is hearing the democratic voices of the streets which are demanding change," Rousseff said Monday -- a repeat of the message she offered Friday in a speech on national television aimed at calming tensions.
"We know we can find solutions together with the population," she added.
Rousseff reiterated many of the themes she presented last week -- making a public transport revamp a priority, using oil royalties to boost education and proposing the recruitment of foreign doctors to bolster health services.
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