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LATIN AMERICA | 27-07-2023 12:21

Lula to tap ally to run Brazil statistics agency, raising concerns of its future

Lula's appointment of economist Marcio Pochmann to head Brazil's IBGE statistics agency raises credibility concerns due to his controversial left-wing views and past budget cuts affecting data accuracy.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has decided to pick an economist known for his heterodox views to run Brazil’s statistics agency, raising concerns about the future of the institution among members of his own government.

Marcio Pochmann, 61, will be the next head of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics known as IBGE, according to Social Communications Minister Paulo Pimenta, who said on Wednesday that there’s “no date” set for his formal appointment.

A former head of the Institute of Applied Economics and Research known as IPEA, Pochmann also presided over a left-wing think tank created by the ruling Workers’ Party. In recent days, local outlets reported his name frustrated Planning Minister Simone Tebet, a centrist ally who oversees the IBGE.

Pochmann’s leftist economic views are considered too extreme even by members of Lula’s economic team, who worry about damage to IBGE’s credibility, according to three government officials with knowledge of the matter. The officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the situation, said Pochmann’s years at IPEA were controversial and caused several economists who did not agree with him to leave the organisation.

A planning ministry spokesperson declined to comment when asked about his appointment. Pochmann didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment, sent outside of working hours. Pimenta downplayed reports of a rift in Lula’s cabinet, telling local media there has never been any noise around Pochmann’s name.

The IBGE carries out the collection and publication of key economic indicators including inflation and gross domestic product data. Under former President Jair Bolsonaro, the agency saw budget cuts which led to criticism of the accuracy of the 2022 census. 
 

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