Brazilian Finance Minister Says Reforms Would Continue Even Without Temer

By Samantha Pearson Features Dow Jones Newswires

SÃO PAULO -- Brazilian Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said Monday he expects President Michel Temer to remain in office until the 2018 presidential election, but that the embattled leader's economic agenda would continue even if he's forced to leave.

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"This is already an agenda for the country...the fact that the country is growing again shows this," the minister said.

Mr. Meirelles said he believes gross domestic product grew 0.7% to 0.8% in the first quarter, and that GDP will be growing at a 3% annualized pace by 2018.

The country's GDP contracted in 2015 and 2017, plunging Brazil into its worst recession on record. Brazil's statistics agency will publish its report on first-quarter GDP on Thursday. Mr. Meirelles's estimate for GDP is in line with market expectations.

Mr. Temer, who became president after his predecessor and former ally, Dilma Rousseff, was ousted in impeachment proceedings last year, has vowed to make changes to the country's insolvent pension system and to modernize Brazil's costly and complicated labor regulations.

Mr. Temer was implicated in the vast corruption scandal known as Operation Car Wash after the former chairman of meatpacking giant JBS SA told prosecutors the president had asked him to pay bribes.

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Mr. Temer has denied any wrongdoing.

Opposition politicians have nevertheless called for his resignation, and some members of Congress have filed articles of impeachment against the president. The country's top electoral court is also investigating allegations that the Rousseff-Temer ticket used illegal financing during the 2014 election, and if the tribunal rules they did, the election result could be annulled and Mr. Temer removed from office.

Write to Samantha Pearson at samantha.pearson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 29, 2017 17:40 ET (21:40 GMT)