Rio State Transport Secretary Shrugs Off Budget Concerns

(ATR) Rio state officials tell ATR the metro line 4 schedule remains on track, despite cries of state budgetary woes.

(ATR) Rio de Janeiro state transport officials tell Around the Rings the metro line 4 schedule remains on track, despite cries of budgetary woes in the state government.

Acting Rio de Janeiro state governor Francisco Dornelles told O Globo on March 30 that the budget crisis in the state is unlike anything he’s ever seen in five decades of public service. Dornelles assumed the interim position as state governor while Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão receives treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

"The implementation works of Line 4 of the Rio de Janeiro Metro has reached 90 percent completion and is on schedule," a spokesperson from the Rio state secretary of transport said to ATR. "All five stations are in their final stage. Line 4 will be running in July 2016."

The spokesperson declined to comment on whether or not the current crisis echoed by Dornelles would have any impact on the final stages of construction.

On Feb. 19, O Globo reported that Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes had prepared contingency plans involving the city’s Bus Rapid Transit lines if the metro were not completed in time for the Olympic Games. The metro was originally supposed to be delivered in 2015, but delays in construction pushed the opening date to the month before the Olympic Games. Brazilian and IOC organizers remain confident in the July delivery date and could not confirm the contingency plans.

Dornelles called the situation with the Rio state budget "tragic," in an exclusive interview with O Globo.

"I've never seen anything like it in Brazil or in the state," Dornelles said. "We have to act now with the federal government. This is the worst situation I've seen in my political career."

Dornelles said that falling oil prices compounded with the deep recession caused in the wake of the Lava Jato scandal have added to a complex situation in the Rio state. The falling oil prices have resulted in falling tax revenue for the state, for which the deficit may only be recouped with loans from the federal government and selling off state property ahead of the Olympic Games.

According to media reports, the current impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff have limited her ability to push budget reforms through legislature to help states in crisis from the recession.

Written by Aaron Bauer in Rio de Janeiro

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