Sao Paulo follows Rio's lead and cuts Carnival funds

Markets Associated Press

Sao Paulo Mayor Joao Doria says Brazil's biggest city will slash public funding for the annual Carnival celebrations, following a similar step by Rio de Janeiro.

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Although Doria did not say how big the cut will be, he promised to seek private funding to cover the gap.

"Faced with the budgetary rift we inherited, it is fundamental to reorganize our finances and invest in prioritary areas with fiscal responsibility," Doria said Wednesday on his official Facebook page.

Sao Paulo's city government provided $9 million (30 million reals) for this year's Carnival.

Doria first announced his decision Tuesday night after a meeting with other Brazilian city mayors, including Marcelo Crivella from Rio de Janeiro.

Crivella has decided to cut by half Rio's funding for its own Carnival, the biggest in the world. The move has drawn criticism in the city, including a protest over the weekend. The organizers of the Rio Carnival and samba school supporters contend that Rio's mayor, a former Pentecostal bishop, is motivated by religious beliefs.

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Doria, however, praised the Sao Paulo Carnival for its "charm and magnitude" and said he will work with the private sector to cover city hall's cuts.

Brazilian governments at all levels are facing tough choices and major budget cuts following an economic recession.

Citizens sounded off on Doria's Facebook page in support of the measure.

"The city already spends in security, lighting and cleaning of the streets, the rest of it needs to come from the organizers! End bread and circuses," said one commenter.