Crisis-hit Brazil unveils $17 bn austerity package

Brazilian Ministers of Finance Joaquim Levy (L) and of Planning Nelson Barbosa hold a press conference at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on September 14, 2015Brasília (AFP) – Brazil announced a massive $17 billion austerity package Monday in a bid to boost its ailing economy amid a deepening crisis that already caused a downgrade of the country’s credit rating. The package — announced at a news conference by Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa — includes freezing public sector salary raises and hiring, entirely eliminating 10 of 39 ministries, cutting 1,000 jobs and slashing housing and health-related social spending. Just a few years ago, Brazil was in carnival mode as one of the BRICS group of emerging giants, winner of hosting rights to both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.

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