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Brazil still has tools to meet sustainability plan, says minister, amid legal changes

BRASILIA : Brazil's Institutional Relations Minister Alexandre Padilha said on Friday the government still has the instruments to maintain its sustainability agenda, even as Congress moves to weaken key ministries' environmental powers.

His remarks come after a congressional committee approved a proposal Wednesday to the gut the environmental ministry of its oversight of the rural land registry. The bill also removed the Indigenous ministry of its power to demarcate Indigenous lands.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met earlier on Friday with environmental minister Marina Silva and Indigenous peoples' minister Sonia Guajajara and said the government will try to revert the changes proposed in the bill.

The ministers left the meeting knowing that there will not be losses in those ministries, Padilha told reporters after.

Lula is under pressure to generate jobs in a long-lagging economy that has grown more dependent on environmentally threatening agricultural exports.

Yet, he has staked his international reputation on slowing deforestation which surged under his predecessor, far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro.

Friday's meeting intended to assure the ministers and reaffirm that the government will not set aside campaign commitments if the changes come into effect.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Isabel Woodford)

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