Public transparency in Brazil
The Brazilian constitution states that all are equal before the law, what means that anyone has the inviolable right to life, liberty, equality and property. However, these rights were being violated for 21 years. Understand the reason why in this article.
Background of Brazilian Dictatorship
During the Cold War, specifically between 1961 and 1964, the Brazilian president João Goularts was giving too much space for social organizations as students and workers were becoming powerful for public decisions. The fear of transforming Brazil in a socialist country was worrying the highly conservative Brazilian society.
In 1964, João Goulart, due to political tension, decided to leave the country in order to avoid a possible civil war, once conservatives were threatening his govern. In April 9th, it is decreed the AI-1, short for Ato Institucional Número 1. Such act prohibited political opponents of the military regime to work, and also ended the stability of public employees.
During the Brazilian military government , there were four presidents and one Military Group that ruled the country. Those presidents were Castelo Branco (1964-1967), Costa e Silva (1967-1969), Military Group (1969), Emílio Medici (1969-1974) and Ernesto Geisel that started the process of democratization of the country.
During this period the rights to life, liberty, equality and property were violated by the ones who should protect them, according to the Brazilian constitution from 1988. Many people disappeared, were tortured and there was a strong censorship that directly affected the press work and also the population knowledge about facts.
As the government used to manipulate information, there are many people in Brazil who still think that the Military Dictatorship was something good for the country. Nowadays the government is still working to change the scenario of this period, and that is what we are going to explain on the topics below.
New rules in Brazil
It seems that initiatives have started to get out of the paper and began to be effectively put into practice in Brazil. The government is working to activate three measures that were present in the Brazilian constitution but due to historical reasons were never put into practice, being them
- Provide the population the right of receiving information of own interest or of public interest from public entities
- Regulate the users' access to administrative records and information about actions of the government
- Public administration refers to, as provided by law, the management of governmental information and arrangements to make available documents of the Brazilian Cultural Patrimony.
According to the lawyer Marcelo Sarkis, from Alcantara & Holstad, there is a hope that it will create a new culture in which public data belongs to all society, what means that the citizens will have the opportunity to know about the government's decisions. The country is now achieving the very beginning of new concepts of liberty and access to information with the work for opposing the corruption.
Facilitating access to information
A law from 2011 known as Lei da Transparência Pública, is mainly focused in the implementation of the culture of information transparency, providing it to those who need or just want to learn about past, present and future plans. The main point of this law is to turn the access to information in a fast and also easily understandable way.
The law applies to the Federal Executive Power. The 26 states, the Federal District and the municipalities, in their own legislation under the general rules set forth in this law, should define specific rules adapted to their regional realities.
According to Marcelo Sarkis, the good intentions about the governmental transparency are put into practice. The preparations took six months, a period considered too short for most public managers because even though the information already existed it must be organized and selected, which requires time, training of personnel and investment in resources.
“There is a strong commitment from the government for Brazil to be recognized as an example of democratic maturity, willing for development and capable to provide a safe business environment.” -Marcelo Sarkis
End of the Eternal Secret
The Government has decided to end with the eternal prompt of secret of some official documents about human rights, including the ones about the dictatorship. These documents have now the prompt up to 50 years to be revealed.
Anyone can request information without justifying why it is necessary. If available, the information must be provided immediately; if it is not, the answer must be ready in a period of twenty days that can be extended for more ten days.
Some secrets will remain the same
The government will continue to protect information about taxation, banking and industry arising from direct activity by the state.
Serviço de Informações ao Cidadão
Better known as SIC, is the new service that must be provided by public companies and governments about their work, salaries and historic that can be requested by anyone without justification.
Since SIC started working, the service has been frequently used by the population and seems to be working well.
How to get informed ?
Public companies and government websites must provide basic information for anyone who searches for it. They are required to display on their web page their business hours, addresses and telephone numbers of the respective units, records of any passing or transfers of financial resources, general data for the monitoring of programs, actions, projects and works of agencies and entities and also answers to frequently asked questions from the society .
To obtain other public information a formal inquiry must be submitted to the responsible office or in their SIC.
Easy way to get informed
The Public Transparency Portal was created in 2004. Here people can find information about public expenses, public revenues, the list of sanctioned companies and also information about projects and actions under the Federal Executive Power.
To help making this idea work out, the government created an open data webpage, where people can find and also share information with the others. The website not only provides information but also shows to users what are the topics and companies most searched.
For all Brazilians the website called “Impostômetro” shows in real time how much we are paying for the government through taxes.
Alcântara & Holstad is a Brazilian-Norwegian consultancy firm, offering advice to foreign companies interested in the Brazilian market. We provide our clients with political and macroeconomic analysis, governmental affairs, and support in the development of a subsidiary in Brazil. For more information visit their website
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