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Brazil's environment, agriculture ministers criticise planned merger

BRASILIA: Brazil's environment and agriculture ministers on Wednesday criticized President-elect Jair Bolsonaro's plans to merge their two departments, saying it would hurt the country's agenda on both fronts.

Bolsonaro has pledged to roughly halve the number of existing ministries in an effort to reduce bureaucracy and government bloat. He also proposed merging the planning, finance and industry ministries into one super ministry.

But a spokeswoman for Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said he is against the proposed merger, which he believes would cause losses to the country.

Earlier in the day, Environment Minister Edson Duarte said in a statement that he was surprised and concerned by the announcement about plans to combine the agriculture and environmental portfolios.

"The new ministry that would emerge from the fusion...would have difficulties operating that could result in damages to both agendas," Duarte's statement said. "The national economy would suffer, especially agribusiness, in the face of possible trade retaliation on the part of importing countries."

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