Brazil's leading opposition candidate, Geraldo Alckmin, said during his party's national convention, Tuesday, June 13, he would cut taxes and streamline the federal government to help accelerate economic growth if he won October's presidential election.
"My pledge is to send a bill to Congress in the first week that simplifies the tax system, stimulates investments and increases efficiency," he told delegates of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, which endorsed Alckmin as its presidential candidate.
The former São Paulo state governor, who is supported by many business leaders for his managerial style, offered proposals focused on economic growth and improved public sector efficiency.
He also harshly criticized President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who leads opinion polls by a wide margin, for failing to take advantage of favorable international economic conditions. "Last year in Latin America Brazil grew more only than Haiti, a small, war-torn country."
Alckmin, 53, pledged to improve operating conditions for businesses and attract investment in infrastructure with clearer regulations, less red tape and lower interest rates.
The trained physician pledged to cut all 12 ministries created in the Lula administration, saying reducing taxes and bureaucracy would stimulate entrepreneurial initiative.
Despite his programme's market-friendly tone, Alckmin said he would not push for privatization of state enterprises, including the postal service. The devout Catholic also said he would not undo Lula's flagship social welfare program, a subsistence bonus paid to nearly 11 million families.
Organizers said some 12,000 people attended the convention but when Alckmin gave his long and sometimes rambling speech, the convention center was more than half empty. He was backed by dozens of party leaders on a stage showered with confetti and spotlights but won only occasional applause.
Critics say Alckmin's stiff composure and haughty discourse are a major handicap in competing with Lula, the charismatic former union leader.
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