Brazilian President Michel Temer denies that his government had given up on its controversial pension reforms, despite opposition from Congress, in a new interview published Saturday.
"I mean the possibility of passing the reform is very big," Temer told the Folha de S Paulo journal. "Several Congress members have changed their minds and the law is slowly gaining support."
Several workers' unions, including the Workers' Sole Central, have rejected the reforms and are threatening to launch new general strikes.
Brazil's adult population is on the rise and the main aim of the reforms is to reduce the country's national deficit, along with the cost of the pension system.
In order to retire on full pension, public servants would first have to work a minimum of 25 years while all other workers would have to work for 40 years under the proposed legislative changes.
The new draft also proposes a minimum of 15 years of contributions from private-sector workers, compared to the 25 years proposed by the previous draft.
The current retirement age is 65 for men and 60 for women. The bill initially proposed a limit of 65 for both sexes, but then altered the retirement age for women to 62.
President Temer has steadily been softening the bill in the hope that it will garner greater Congressional acceptance.
The reform is one of the main proposals by Temer's administraiton, but he also has other plans, including simplifying the tax system.
The House of Representatives rejected the bill in October, with just 251 votes in favour out of 513. At least 308 votes are needed in order to pass the legislation.
Brazilians are heading to the polls later this to elect a new president, with former head of state Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva currently leading the polls. However, corruption charges could put him in jail for nine years and prevent him from running in the elections.
"We have to admit that it would be better if [Lula] is politically defeated than being defeated [by a court], because he would be victimized," said Temer. "Victimization is not good for a country and it's not good for an ex-president."
Temer and Lula used to be allies within the Workers' Party (PT), but they split when former president Dilma Rousseff was removed from office in what has been called a coup.