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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Friday, August 17, 2018

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Rousseff vows to fight graft as she begins second term

Her governing coalition of the Latin American nation

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BRASILIA, Brazil - President Dilma Rousseff has been sworn in for her second term that comes with huge challenges of failing economy and limited congressional support for her governing coalition of the Latin American nation.

Rousseff took the oath on Thursday and vowed to curb government spending to tame inflation and pull the largest economy in the region out of a four-year slump.

The 67-year-old also vowed to root out corruption that has marred the state-owned oil giant Petrobras, which is being probed for a multi-billion-dollar graft scandal.

The Petrobras scandal has threatened Rousseff's second term, which she won by a narrow margin in the October election.

Federal investigators into the Petrobras scam have arrested 39 people, including two former directors and scores of executives from Brazil's top construction companies who are charged with channeling money from overpriced contracts to bribe officials and politicians.

Rousseff, who was the chair of Petrobras when much of the graft took place, has denied knowledge of the corruption.

Experts feel that the weakening coalition was likely to make it harder for her to tackle the challenges her government faces.

Rousseff is also infamous for her rigid management style that is blamed for investors fleeing Brazilian assets in disapproval of her approach.

Nevertheless, the president in her inaugural speech pledged to pursue more market-friendly policies.

"More than anybody, I know Brazil needs to resume growth. The first steps of this journey are an overhaul of public accounts, increasing domestic savings, beefing up investments and improving productivity," Rousseff said in her 40-minuter address to Congress.

However, she didn't provide specifics on the budget cuts and vowed to extend social welfare programmes that have lifted millions out of poverty.

The first four-year term of the left-wing economist was a battle to juggle an economic downturn and high inflation.

Rousseff sharply defended her record, noted the achievements her government made in addressing social inequities with welfare programmes. She said she was ready to fight graft and end impunity for the rich and powerful.

"The Brazilian people want even more transparency and more combat against all types of crimes, especially corruption," she said.

"And they want the arm of justice to reach everyone equally. I'm not afraid to face these challenges."

Alfredo Sirkis, a former Congressman and longtime critic of Rousseff, said the president was faced with an "explosive combination" of problems.

"It's going to be a very rough year for her," said Sirkis.

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