Amid the drop in the number of civil servants at Ibama and ICMBio —the main inspection and environmental management bodies—, especially in the Legal Amazonthe government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) boosted the number of employees allocated to commissioned positions, that is, appointed by appointment.
Survey of Sheet showed that entities registered negative records in the area. In 2021, ICMBio had 1,470 workers – the lowest number since its foundation, in 2007 –, and Ibama reached 2,360 in 2022, the lowest at least since 1999 – there is no previous data available on the government website.
The report counted only the active servants of the bodies and the commissioners, groups responsible for the main public activities. That is, it did not count those borrowed from other sectors, which constitute a small contingent, in addition to interns and outsourced workers.
On the other hand, the number of people holding commissioned positions was boosted. At Ibama, there were 18 active vacancies of this type in 2018. Since 2019, this number has never been less than 30, reaching 41 in 2019, the highest in more than a decade.
At ICMBio, the figure rose from 52, in the last year of Michel Temer (MDB), to 88 in 2022 —the highest in its history. Servers and sources linked to the environmental area reported to the Sheet in reserve that many of these positions were occupied by military personnel or people without training.
The current president of Ibama, Eduardo Bim, for example, is a former federal prosecutor and was removed by the courts for alleged involvement in wood smuggling. Four names have passed through the board of ICMBio, three of which are MPs: Homero Cerqueira, Fernando Lorencini and the current one, Marcos Simanovic.
Bolsonaro had two environment ministersRicardo Salles, who resigned under investigation by the STF and today he is elected federal deputy, and Joaquim Leite. Both imposed the “pass the cattle” agendawith actions contrary to the portfolio’s objective, and the country broke records of fires e logging.
“The Ministry of the Environment, through Ibama, clarifies that 739 new civil servants were hired for Ibama and ICMBio, which represents an annual increase of R$ 72 million to the portfolio’s budget. In addition, environmental inspection was reinforced with the allocation supplementary funding of R$ 270 million to the Ministry of the Environment,” said the folder.
The lifting of Sheet also showed that the reduction of personnel in the Bolsonaro administration mainly affected the most important region to be preserved in the country and, perhaps, in the world: the nine states of the Legal Amazon (Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins).
Adding the two bodies together, the number of civil servants in this region was reduced by 40% between 2018 and 2022, followed by those in the North (36.5%) and Northeast (31.3%). The South had the lowest loss, 3.1%. Add to this scenario a increase in the number of outsourced and the constant drop in the agency’s budget.
At Ibama, this group of temporary workers almost doubled from 2018 to 2022, reaching more than a thousand, a level comparable to that of the agency ten years ago. At the time, however, the ratio was about one temp to four career servers. Currently, it’s one to two. At ICMBio, the contingent more than quadrupled under the current government, reaching almost 3,000, an unprecedented level.
Budgets have been falling and sometimes being underutilized. In 2021, Ibama spent only 40% of the budget allocated for inspection, the body’s main activity. In the first third of 2022, ICMBio paid just over 11% of its total annual budget. When contacted, Ibama and ICMBio did not respond.
For Suely Araújo, president of Ibama from 2016 to 2018, permanent servers cannot be replaced by outsourced ones, mainly because the agency’s activity involves inspection and acting with police power, in addition to complex data processing in licensing cases.
“In the current government, there is a mixture of a lack of personnel, which is a historical process, with a huge managerial inability. But the main problem for environmental inspection is the lack of personnel, there is no point in filling the agency with money without having a team. That’s it. imposes verification by the control bodies”, she says.
The precariousness of inspection is translated into numbers. Assessments fell from 4,253 in 2018 to 2,534 in 2021 —in the same range, deforestation rose from 7,500 km² to more than 13,200 km².
There was also a reduction of more than 80% in embargoes and seizures in the same period — from around 2,500 to less than 500 in both cases. In addition, the bureaucratic process for punishments was made more difficult, with the creation of the conciliation meeting —in which those who have committed an offense can reach an agreement, thereby avoiding sanctions. And, on more than one occasion, government members acted to place obstacles to operations and make laws against environmental crimes more flexible.
For Cláudio Maretti, president of ICMBio between 2015 and 2016, the problem of reducing employees takes on a new dimension with the removal of civil servants from field activities and essential regions for the maintenance of preservation areas and environmental conservation.
He mentions, for example, the change of ICMBio’s regional headquarters from Rio de Janeiro, a state with several conservation units, to São Paulo, where there are fewer. On the other hand, he claims that the high number of temporary contracts could have been generated by a large contingent of brigade members —which would be positive. But, according to Maretti, even in this case the general scenario is extremely negative.
“There was a progressive removal of people from the front, bringing people without capacity. The quality of management dropped a lot. There was a brutal drop in the quality of service”, he says.