Brazil unveils $11 billion in 'legacy' budget

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm •  Published: April 16, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian government officials announced Wednesday that almost $11 billion (24.1 billion Brazilian reals) will be spent on major transportation and environmental projects, which they argue are not related to holding the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Officials say the money in the so-called "legacy" budget would have been spent without the Olympics. Officials said 57 percent is public money with rest coming from the private sector.

This is the third budget announcement in three months with government and Olympic officials unveiling them in a stream of smaller chunks.

Brazil is bracing for protests during the upcoming World Cup, which opens in two months. Any anger will focus on lavish spending for football tournament — about $11 billion — compared with high taxes and poor schools and hospitals.

Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, who dominated Wednesday's announcement, argued the spending would benefit ordinary Cariocas, which is how Rio residents are known. He also suggested Rio would be rejuvenated the way Barcelona was by the 1992 Olympics, a comparison many question.

Paes also took a shot at the lavish spending of $40 billion on 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"We're not going to build a Bird's Nest in Rio de Janeiro," Paes said, referring to Beijing's 90,000-seat stadium that now sits largely vacant. "If you go to Beijing today the Bird's Nest has become a mausoleum to honor wasted public money. We are not going to do this here."

The Rio games have been plagued by delays and holdups over what level of government pays for what.

The budget announcement came as 2,300 construction workers remained off the job Wednesday in a two-week strike at the Olympic Park, the main cluster of venues located 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of Rio's Copacabana beach area.

Several IOC members lambasted Rio's preparations last week at the SportAccord conference in Turkey, saying the games were more poorly organized than the 2004 Athens Olympics — the benchmark for delays.

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