The third debate for the launch of the book “O Legado da Pandemia” had economist and former Governor of the State of Espírito Santo, Paulo Hartung, in attendance. He discussed lessons from the pandemic to Central State management
In the third meeting of the debate series to launch the book “O Legado da Pandemia” (“The Legacy of the Pandemic,” in a free translation), guests looked into the lessons the pandemic brought into discussions on public organization and management. Insper proposed a series of meetings in partnership with Brazilian nonprofit BRAVA. It aimed to expand access to the knowledge generated by the new publication.
Insper professor Laura Müller Machado organized the book. It counts on reflections by 26 professors and researchers who had looked into the pandemic’s legacies and lessons for public policy. The book was made available for free in e-book format (in Portuguese). Learn more about the publication and download it here!
The meeting brought together authors and panelists Elize Massard and Gabriela Lotta, professors at Fundação Getúlio Vargas’ São Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV/EAESP), and Insper professors Natalia Vasconcelos, Ricardo Paes de Barros, Sandro Cabral. Besides, the meeting had economist and Former Governor of the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo, Paulo Hartung, as commentator.
“I had never seen actions of solidarity from society as strong as at the beginning of this pandemic. There was food distribution and other citizen mobilizations all over Brazil. Our society sought ways to support people at that moment. This action coordinated by Laura and Insper is part of those collaborative initiatives from civil society. It is a work that needs continuity,” said guest Paulo Hartung.
Prof. Sandro Cabral, who is Coordinator of the Insper Professional Masters in Public Policy (MPP, for its acronym in Portuguese), started the debate. He talked about Brazil’s cumulative failure in collaborative governance efforts. “When we face a very complex and public problem, such as a pandemic, more than ever, we need to have information sharing, knowledge sharing, and coordinated action to solve problems.
For him, “we had failed miserably, causing problems for our country and now for the world, because of our inability collaborating. Finally, we failed in the main aspect of good collaborative governance, which is the presence of facilitating leaders.
Federalism and decentralization at the Supreme Court
The second chapter discussed analyzes the first decisions from Brazil’s Supreme Court (the STF, for its acronym in Portuguese) on states’ and cities’ powers in the pandemic effort. It tried to understand more comprehensively the trajectory of the Court’s jurisprudence. Author and Insper professor Natalia Vasconcelos explains: “The STF has the central role in those disputes. That is due especially to the Brazilian institutional design. It gives the Supreme Court the ability to control the constitutionality of laws.”
For her, the pandemic had shown that such a distribution of powers is a minefield difficult to navigate. It is divided so that tasks are often overlapping between the powers and competing with each other. “The lessons from the Court we have seen to date is that contingency matters. Also, although one keeps the previous understanding about the role of each federal entity, a rigorous commitment to a given federative design proposal can often put the future of the federation itself in jeopardy”.
Vigilant public management
Prof. Gabriela Lotta presented the book chapter discussing the concept of vigilant public management and the growing distance between the public bureaucracy and the political arena. “In the article, we question ourselves if the decisions the public bureaucracy ends up making in the face of political conflict are whether desirable or an insubordination to the legitimate manifestation of politics.”
“We can say that this process’s legacy is the detachment of bureaucracies from politics and the inability of mutual control, which is part of the balance of democracy itself. That process is absolutely unbalanced, which can cause problems for all imaginable sides,” the researcher explained.
The healthcare system’s response
In the chapter discussed by FGV/EAESP professor Elize Massard, the central topic is the Brazilian public healthcare system — SUS, for its acronym in Portuguese. Also, the legacies the pandemic had brought to that body’s work in the fields of science and technology for vaccine production. “There are several issues involved, especially in the field of production and how to supply the world with vaccines at a time of high demand.”
“Technology transfer has become a key point for accessing vaccines since the industries that developed these products do not have global production capacity. Thus, they need to decentralize production. Brazil took the lead as one of the countries with the greatest capacity to receive technology. Inside SUS, it is a work that has been built over many years,” Prof. Elize said.
The end of invisibility
Prof. Ricardo Paes de Barros, the holder of the Instituto Ayrton Senna Chair and Coordinator of the Center for Sciences in Education (NCPE, for its acronym in Portuguese), addressed the last chapter at the event. He discussed the population’s social rights that the Central State must guarantee.
“The pandemic has taught us a crystal-clear thing: If you want to spend to guarantee the vulnerable population’s fundamental rights, you need to know who these people are and what their needs are. If they are invisible, it will not be possible to have an effective policy”, said Ricardo in his opening speech.
Paulo Hartung’s contribution
After that, upon introducing each chapter’s topic, economist and former Governor of Espírito Santo Paulo Hartung was invited to bring in his comments regarding the discussions proposed through the book. He has extensive experience in the public sector. It includes running for eight elections and holding eight terms. Also, he served as the director of BNDES’ (the Brazilian Development Bank) social area for a period.
Following that, the authors had some time to answer questions placed by the event’s audience. Watch the webinar’s full recording here: