Brazil court orders senate to suspend 'super-salaries' and refund excess wages

BRASïLIA (AFP) - A Brazil court on Wednesday ordered the senate to suspend all salaries over US$12,500 (S$15,629) and to refund nearly US$90 million that have been paid in excess wages.

An audit by the court - which is charged with overseeing public finances - found some 464 officials working for the chamber received so-called "super-salaries," well above the constitutional limit of around US$12,500 per month for public sector employees.

"We cannot continue with these differentiated wages, with people earning salaries like princes and (other) persons receiving minimum wage" of 678 reais (S$381), presiding Judge Augusto Nardes said, according to state-run Agencia Brasil.

The court gave the senate 30 days to enforce the measure. Senate President Renan Calheiros pledged in a statement that the body would "immediately implement the reduction" in salaries to the constitutional limit.

In August, the same court ordered Brazil's lower chamber to suspend the salaries of 1,000 officials exceeding the legal limit, but it was not forced to return past wages.

Brazil saw massive protests in June, with more than a million people taking to the streets over shoddy public services and corruption in a country with a wide disparity between the rich and the poor.