Brazil environment ministry to stop fighting deforestation in the Amazon

A donkey stands tied up next to a burnt area of Amazon rainforest reserve in Brazil. PHOTO: AFP

BRASILIA (REUTERS) - All operations to combat illegal logging in the Amazon will be halted on Monday due to insufficient funds, Brazil's Environment Ministry said on Friday (Aug 28).

The move comes despite rising deforestation and growing criticism of Brazil's environmental policy from both environmentalists and international investors, many of whom have threatened to pull out of the country if the government does not show improved results in protecting the Amazon.

The ministry said the move was due to a decision by Brazil's Federal Budget Secretariat, known as the SOF, to block certain funds that had originally been allocated to the Environment Ministry's enforcement arm Ibama and parks service ICMBio.

The SOF's move, the ministry said, ultimately came from the office of the Chief of Staff for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

"According to information provided to the ministry by Secretary Esteves Colnago of the Economy Ministry, the blockage of nearly 60 million reais (S$9.3 million) in funds to Ibama and ICMBio was ordered by the Government Secretary's Office and the Office of the Chief of Staff of the President," the ministry said in a statement.

The Economy Ministry, Government Secretary's Office and the Chief of Staff's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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