The president of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), minister Maria Thereza de Assis Moura, suspended, on Wednesday (14DEEC2022), the decision of the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region (TRF1) that, in an interlocutory appeal, granted the injunction that prevented the Brazilian Army from continuing the process of purchasing Italian armored vehicles.
The formalization of the international contract was scheduled for last 5th and the Union has until this Thursday (15th) to pledge the amount to be paid in 2023 – R$ 1 million.
According to the minister, as reported by the Union in the request for suspension of preliminary order, the acquisition of the armored vehicles is part of a long-term public policy, supported by extensive technical discussion, which began ten years ago.
“The project in question – ‘Project Armored Forces’ – began in 2012, more than ten years ago, and it was not something designed in a hurried or sudden manner. The expense was duly included in the Multi-Year Plan 2020-2023, approved by the National Congress in December 2019, and included as a ‘Priority Multi-Year Investment’,” explained the minister, referring to the information in the process.
Moreover, according to the magistrate, the purchase will be made over 17 years, extending until 2040, and the allegation of large expenses at a time of budget constraints – justification used to suspend the purchase – is inappropriate.
“Contrary to what was stated in the decision under appeal, there is no provision for instantaneous disbursement of the amount of R$ 5 billion. There is, however, the need for payment of R$ 1 million (significantly less than the amount indicated) by December 15, 2022, as a way to confirm the contract and within the commitment period of the budget allocation for 2023, “she explained.
The president of the STJ pointed out that “the continuity of the project of renewal of the military park must be ensured, not only because the decision under attack is likely to lead to an increase in values already aligned, with effective economic damage to the Union, but also because the injunction granted compromises the structure and plan for external defense aligned by the Ministry of Defense and the Brazilian Army, and the very capacity of national defense,” and may cause “unequivocal injury to the order, the capacity of external security and the public economy.
The purchasing process was questioned by a popular action
After the filing of a popular action, TRF1 granted an injunction to suspend the purchase, on the grounds that the deal would amount to more than R$ 5 billion at a time of spending cuts in the federal executive branch.
In the request addressed to the STJ, the Union argued that the suspension of the procedure causes serious injury to public order and security, given the strategic needs of the Army.
The Federal Government mentioned the efforts of various sectors to ensure budgetary conditions for the purchase of the armored vehicles. For the public advocacy, delays in the procedure can generate losses to the state coffers, due to possible readjustments or contract rescission, not to mention the eventual work of redoing the entire purchase process from the beginning.
In addition, the Union contested the figures stated in the popular action and said that only two armored cars would be acquired at the first moment.
Budget approved by the Congress
When analyzing the case, the minister Maria Thereza de Assis Moura refuted the association between budget cuts for health and education and the investment to renew the Army’s fleet of armored cars.
She recalled that the multi-year plan with the forecast of this investment was approved by Congress, and it is impossible to unlink the expenses to direct them to other areas.
“The expenses committed in the category ‘national defense’ can not, by order of law, be moved to any other purpose, however relevant it may be, not lending themselves, therefore, to affect spending on health or education, “she said.
The minister also considered that, as highlighted by the Union, the delay in the procedure can generate high costs for Brazil and cause embarrassment to the technical planning developed for this purpose.
*** Translated by the DEFCONPress FYI Team ***