Another Brazil minister quits in corruption scandal

BRASILIA, (Reuters) – Brazil’s transport minister yesterday became the latest top official to quit because of  corruption allegations, adding to the recent struggles of  President Dilma Rousseff’s six-month-old government.  

Alfredo Nascimento resigned following a report over the  weekend by influential news magazine Veja that his top aides  were charging companies a 5 percent fee to win infrastructure  and other contracts. 

Alfredo Nascimento

Rousseff’s left-leaning government has been in a state of  paralysis since last month, when her chief of staff Antonio  Palocci quit following questions over his sudden enrichment.  

The scandals have exacerbated tensions within Rousseff’s  10-party coalition and distracted Congress from debating major  economic reforms, such as changes to the tax code, that seek to  ensure continued growth in Brazil’s economy.
Nascimento’s Party of the Republic is a minor member of the  coalition, so his departure will probably not substantially  worsen the rift with Rousseff’s partners.  

Yet opposition lawmakers could still choose to launch an  investigation into alleged corruption at the ministry. A  drawn-out probe could chip away at Rousseff’s popularity at a  time when Brazilians are increasingly restless about rising  inflation and a constant drumbeat of scandal.  

Nascimento’s relatively quick resignation could be  interpreted as a sign that Rousseff is less tolerant of  corruption than her predecessor and political mentor Luiz  Inacio Lula da Silva, who often permitted officials to linger  in their jobs for much longer after such allegations.  

Local media reported that Rousseff was especially angry  about possible corruption within the transport ministry because  it handles projects related to her pet infrastructure program,  known as the PAC.  

The $1 trillion PAC seeks to expand Brazil’s infrastructure  ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics and help resolve  bottlenecks on overburdened highways and in seaports.

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