July 23, 2024


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Brazil’s attorney general asks for inquiry into education minister’s funding decisions

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with Milton Ribeiro during a signing ceremony to authorise a salary increase for teachers, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil February 4, 2022. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

BRASILIA, Mar 23 (Reuters) – Brazil’s attorney general on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to investigate funding decisions made by the country’s education minister – a move which comes after media reports that some projects negotiated by two pastors were given priority.

The minister, Milton Ribeiro, denied any irregularities in the allocation of funds to municipal governments. Ribeiro also said he asked federal comptroller CGU last year to investigate irregularities over spending decisions.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement that its request for a Supreme Court inquiry follows “the publication of news reports pointing to the interference of two evangelical pastors in the (funding) process.”

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Ribeiro said in an interview with CNN Brazil earlier on Wednesday that he has offered to address the allegations before lawmakers in Congress.

“I made myself available,” said Ribeiro, referring to recent calls with senior legislators. “And I asked to go there to provide clarification.”

On Monday, Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported that it had obtained an audio recording of Ribeiro talking about how the government prioritized funding requests from local governments that were negotiated by two influential pastors.

Ribeiro was quoted as saying that such funding decisions aligned with the wishes of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Reuters has not been able to independently verify the report.

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Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Edwina Gibbs

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.