Brazil's Congress should approve Rousseff's accounts: minister

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff looks on at the prime minister's official residence in Helsinki, Finland, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva
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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's government has fine-tuned arguments aimed at defending President Dilma Rousseff from a ruling that her administration manipulated federal accounts last year, and expects Congress to approve them, Chief of Staff Jaques Wagner said on Wednesday. The Federal Accounts Court, or TCU, last month said the government had manipulated its accounts in 2014 to disguise a widening fiscal deficit as Rousseff, a leftist, campaigned for re-election, and recommended lawmakers reject the figures. The ruling, the TCU's first against a Brazilian president in nearly 80 years, was not legally binding but it provided ammunition for opposition lawmakers to push for impeachment proceedings against Rousseff in an increasingly hostile Congress. Rousseff's government has prepared its defense using "basically" the same arguments it had presented to the TCU, with a few modifications, Wagner told reporters in Brasilia. He did not provide details. Rousseff's government had argued that previous administrations also resorted to similar fiscal maneuvers, including the use of state banks to help finance social programs. Government officials repeatedly have said the TCU was unduly penalizing actions needed to keep key programs for Brazil's poor. "The government is certain that what was done was according to guidelines we had at the time," Wagner said. "We expect that Congress accept our arguments and approve the president's accounts." Rousseff's accounts will now be analyzed by a congressional budget committee, with a vote on the matter expected by Dec. 17, said Senator Rose de Freitas, who heads the committee. (Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Walter Brandimarte; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao)

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