The reason given by Romeu Zema (Novo) for not holding the referendum on the privatizations of state-owned companies in Minas Gerais ‘does not fit’, according to state deputy Marquinhos Lemos (PT), who chairs the Commission and Popular Participation in the Legislative Assembly of Minas Gerais (ALMG ).
The referendum is provided for in article 14 of the Constitution of the State of Minas Gerais, which had its text changed by an amendment approved in 2001. To privatize or sell shares in public companies and mixed-capital companies, the government needs to present a bill specific to ALMG and, if approved by more than three-fifths of the deputies, the privatization must be submitted to a popular referendum.
Instead of following the state Constitution, Romeu Zema intends to change it. The governor sent to ALMG, on August 21, a proposed amendment to the Constitution (PEC) that reduces the number of votes needed to approve privatizations and removes the government’s obligation to hold the referendum and consult the population of Minas Gerais.
:: Zema wants to change the Constitution of MG to prevent a referendum on the sale of state-owned companies ::
In a note, the government justifies that the consultation is expensive and burdens public authorities, being, in Zema’s words, “operationally impossible”. The justification was reinforced by the State Government Secretary, Gustavo Valadares. “It is completely unfeasible to hold a popular consultation to discuss privatizations of state companies,” declared Valadares.
Representative Marquinhos Lemos, member of the Bloco Democracia e Luta, the main parliamentary force opposing privatizations in the state, disagrees with the Executive’s arguments and points out other reasons for the change in the State Constitution. Check out the mini-interview:
Brasil de Fato MG – How is Romeu Zema’s PEC, which removes the mandatory referendum, being received by ALMG?
Marquinhos Lemos – It is a project that will have a lot of resistance here in the House, from our bloc and from some deputies who, despite being in support of the government, do not agree with this proposal to take away from the population of Minas You have the right to give your opinion.
Why is holding this referendum important?
In addition to democracy and participation, we see the referendum as the moment to discuss with the population, who are sometimes very oblivious. As much as we hold hearings and promote debates here at the House, we cannot reach the entire population of Minas Gerais. It is important that we have the opportunity to take this debate to the four corners of Minas Gerais.
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Romeu Zema’s main justification is that the referendum would be impossible to hold. What is your assessment?
When you want, you do it. We will have an election next year, the referendum could be held together with the election, for example. Today, Copasa serves almost 80% of the municipalities in Minas Gerais, Cemig serves 90% of the municipalities in Minas Gerais. We have already had referenda and plebiscites. Zema’s justification doesn’t fit.
The problem is that the government doesn’t want to listen to the population. Zema creates a government that comes from the top down, mainly over Cemig and Copasa, which are two companies that generate a lot of profit. What is missing is a debate about the service provision of these companies. Take the profit and reinvest it in the company itself.
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Source: BdF Minas Gerais
Editing: Larissa Costa