SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazil's lawmakers have approved changes that could reduce the amount of bureaucracy stalling construction work for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
The lower house of Congress voted late Wednesday on a provisional measure that facilitates bidding for projects related to both events.
The government says the new rules are key to fast-tracking infrastructure projects, while critics warn they may open the door for misuse of public money and overspending.
''We will trample the law just because the government was not capable or competent to start the construction work in time,'' said opposition lawmaker Rubens Bueno, adding that Brazil has known it will host the World Cup for more than three years.
The measure was approved by 272 votes to 76, but it still has to go through the Senate before taking effect.
Brazil President Dilma Rousseff can veto the measure but is not likely to do it.
Supporters of the changes argued that without the measure it would be difficult to finish all the work in time for the World Cup and the Olympics. They said the bidding law is inefficient in several areas, especially when considering the challenges of hosting the world's top sporting events.
The changes are aimed at reducing the time needed to set up and conclude bidding processes, eliminating some of its stages and some requirements necessary for approval.
Critics complain the measure is flawed because it doesn't require officials to publicly disclose details on the bid process.
''It's OK to try to speed up the bidding processes by removing bureaucracy, but it's absurd to conceal how this is being done,'' Francisco Gil Castello Branco, who works for the watchdog group Contas Abertas, told ESPN Brasil. ''It's our money, so we need total transparency so we know what happens to this money. I hope this doesn't go through.''
The measure is based on similar legislation used by England for the 2012 Olympics.
''This is the best way to improve transparency,'' said the creator of the provisional measure, lawmaker Jose Guimaraes. ''By establishing rules, we are telling the private sector that they can participate, but also that they will be held accountable for the construction work.''
The measure, which had been proposed a few times but never made it through the lower house until now, had the support of the Brazilian Audit Court, a government watchdog group responsible for overseeing how the government spends public money. The group earlier this year criticized the government for delays, missing deadlines, not controlling costs and a lack of transparency.
Although the government insists everything will be ready in time for the events, even some high-ranking officials have acknowledged that Brazil is facing delays in several World Cup-related projects, especially airport renovations and stadium constructions.
The International Olympic Committee recently praised Rio's preparations for the Olympics, the first ever to be held in South America.