Reuters International

Congressman Rodrigo Maia speaks during a session to elect the new president of the chamber of deputies in the National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino


By Maria Carolina Marcello

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress, Rodrigo Maia, said on Tuesday he had scrapped a bill to change a programme granting amnesty to Brazilians that pay billions of dollars in taxes and fines to legalize undeclared assets held abroad.

Maia's surprise decision came amid disagreements with the government, which opposed relaxing the amnesty programme and sharing more of its proceeds with cash-strapped states.

The programme is key for President Michel Temer's government to meet its budget deficit target for this year and help ease the fiscal strains of states struggling to pay public employees and provide services. The deadline for the programme is Oct. 31.

Maia was the main supporter of changes that would extend the deadline of the programme, alter the period used as the basis to levy fines and increase revenue sharing with states.

Maia said he removed the bill from the house's official agenda given the resistance from the opposition, which had threatened to block the vote earlier on Tuesday.

"There is no turning back on this matter," Maia told reporters. "The current rules remain in place. The government will not lose anything."

The finance ministry estimates the government could raise up to 50 billion reais (£13 .1 billion) in revenue from the programme.

Other countries from Mexico to Argentina have launched similar programs to raise revenue in order to make up for a drop in commodity prices that has hurt exports and tax revenue.

(Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Chris Reese and Meredith Mazzilli)


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