Coronavirus has Brazil on verge of economic collapse and food shortages, leaders warn

May 13, 2020

By ABC Net 

Brazil's President and Economy Minister have warned that Latin America's largest economy is on the verge of collapse, underlining the Government's controversial view that the fallout from social-distancing measures could be worse than the novel coronavirus itself.

Key points:

  • Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has opposed coronavirus-related shutdowns
  • The country's Economy Minister says there are risks of food shortages
  • Some state and municipal Governments have implemented full lockdowns

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Supreme Court justices, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes warned that business leaders are telling him there is a danger production may seize up and there will be a lack of food on the shelves within 30 days.

Government-provided emergency subsidies for the poor will soon dry up, he added, as he joined business leaders in a protest at the Supreme Court against measures enforced by state governors to repress the virus.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro headlined separate protests in the Brazilian capital on Sunday where supporters called for the Supreme Court to be shut down.

You view a small Jair Bolsonaro in a black suit as he stands on the ramp of the Planalto Palace, dwarfed by the structure.

Mr Bolsonaro has come out strongly against coronavirus lockdown measures.(Reuters: Ueslei Marcelino)

Mr Bolsonaro said some states had gone too far in their social-distancing measures, and that steps must be taken as soon as possible to bring the economy out of "intensive care".

The Supreme Court has rejected Mr Bolsonaro's efforts to overturn those state orders.

Coronavirus cases hit new records as hospitals overwhelmed

A cemetery worker stands before the coffin of a COVID-19 victim.

Brazil has become Latin America's coronavirus epicentre.(AP: Leo Correa)

The comments from the President and Economy Minister came as the coronavirus crisis intensified in Brazil, which has registered 132,367 confirmed cases and 9,054 deaths.

New deaths hit 615 on Wednesday, a second consecutive daily record, with hospitals overwhelmed in some states.

A man jogs wearing a white face mask in front of a white spherical building on a blue day.

Many Brazilians have lost their income as a result of the pandemic.(Reuters: Ueslei Marcelino)

Financial institutions polled by Brazil's central bank predict the economy will shrink 3.8 per cent this year, and non-governmental organisations say more and more families are skipping meals as incomes dry up.

Brazil's currency sank to an all-time low on Thursday after a bigger-than-expected central bank rate cut to stave off what could be the worst annual economic contraction in half a century.

A boy wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against coronavirus while waiting to have his hair cut.

There are grave concerns for the welfare of Brazil's urban poor amid the pandemic.(AP: Silvia Izquierdo)

However, there has been little impact so far on food supply within the country or exports of a bumper soy crop.

Many state governments have been angered by the national Government's laissez-faire attitude toward the virus, and most have shut non-essential businesses and services.

A woman wearing a black bathers and protective face shield walks along the Copacabana beach on a clear blue day.

Brazil has the most number of coronavirus cases in Latin America.(Reuters: Pilar Olivares)

Some former allies have split with Mr Bolsonaro over his economy-first message.

Authorities in the northern states of Maranhao, Para and Ceara declared full lockdowns in certain areas this week, though the measures appear to have been only lightly enforced.

During his comments to reporters, Mr Guedes also repeated a call for public sector workers to forgo salary increases for two years, and said he had asked Mr Bolsonaro to veto sections of a bill offering aid to local authorities that allow such raises.

Mr Bolsonaro said he fully supported Mr Guedes regarding the matter.

Homeless people sleep in sleeping bags against the exterior walls of a Cathedral in Sao Paulo.

Municipal authorities have reported deaths of homeless people due to COVID-19.(AP: Andre Pennder)

The post about “Coronavirus has Brazil on verge of economic collapse and food shortages, leaders warn" appeared first on the ABC Net website.

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