Reuters International

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's Lower House of Congress on Wednesday will vote to reopen a programme that gives criminal amnesty to Brazilians holding undeclared assets abroad if they pay a tax and fine, said a governor leading a group of states demanding help to cover their widening fiscal deficits.

Federal District governor Rodrigo Rollemberg said the head of the Lower House, Rodrigo Maia, has promised to vote the bill, which could yield an extra 13.2 billion reais (£3.5 billion) in revenues this year.

Rollemberg and a group of governors met in Brasilia on Wednesday to call for their allies in Congress to approve the bill, proceeds of which would help battle a fiscal crisis that has left many states without funds to cover wages and basic services.

Rollemberg said lawmakers have agreed to alter the percentage of taxes and fines to reduce legal uncertainties, without elaborating.

If changes are approved, the bill would have to return to the Senate, which last year passed the original version.

Alexandre Baldy, the congressmen in charge of reviewing the bill, said most lawmakers support the changes that raise the fine to 20 percent from 17.5 percent, of the undeclared assets, while lowering the tax percentage to 15 percent from 17.5 percent.

"Most states and municipalities are under heavy financial stress and need this money now," Baldy said.

The cash stemming from the fines and taxes would be shared between the federal government and states and municipalities.

In the initial amnesty programme, the government collected a total of 46.8 billion reais, which helped authorities meet their primary budget deficit goal for 2016.

(Reporting by Cesar Raizer and Alonso Soto; Editing by David Gregorio)

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