SAO PAULO (Reuters) – More than 300 senior Brazilian officials have resigned from their posts amid budget cuts imposed on the country’s tax and customs agency, one of the agency’s unions said on Wednesday, amid anger over President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to grant police pay increases.

The cuts to the Brazilian tax agency, known as Receita Federal, were made in the government’s 2022 budget, which was approved by Congress on Tuesday evening. The budget allocates 1.7 billion reais ($ 300 million) in salary increases to the Brazilian police, one of Bolsonaro’s main voters ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Following the budget’s approval on Wednesday, at least 324 senior federal auditors for Receita stepped down from their leadership roles, the Sindifisco union said in a statement. Although officials will remain with the agency, there could now be up to 500 unfilled senior positions across Brazil, Sindifisco said.

The union said funds cut from Receita’s federal budget were reallocated to the police, while its members did not receive the bonus they were owed.

“Adding insult to injury, the Receita Federal’s own resources will be reduced to meet the readjustments agreed with the police, in a demonstration of absolute disrespect to the tax administration,” said the Minister. union in its press release.

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“It is no longer our burden to maintain a budget built to our detriment,” he added.

The massive departure of so many listeners could pose tax or customs problems for the Brazilian government during the busy Christmas season. It also represents a high-profile rebuke of Bolsonaro’s politically sensitive budget by federal officials ahead of what is expected to be a tense election year.

Bolsonaro, a former far-right army captain, is currently behind in the polls as he grapples with rapidly rising inflation and anger over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

He has previously, without evidence, questioned the credibility of the electoral process. Critics and political analysts have expressed concern that his base of support among the police would pose a problem for a democratic transition if Bolsonaro chooses not to accept any electoral defeat.

(Reporting by Bernardo Caram; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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