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Brazil Considers Having Only One Time Zone

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Published 19-Jun-2009. Changed 21-Jul-2009

Update: Senator Arthur Virgílio, who authored the proposal for Brazil to observe just one time zone, called for the project to be withdrawn. The senator confirmed that the project was made at the request of a television network owner. timeanddate.com contacted a Senate agency officer who confirmed, in accordance with information on the Senate's website, that the proposal to withdraw the project was approved. Therefore, Brazil will continue with its current time zones.

Brazil may have only one time zone in the near future after a proposal on the matter received a Senate committee approval on Tuesday, June 16, 2009. The proposal calls for a unified time zone to be based on Brasilia’s time zone, which is three hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-3 hours) when it is not on daylight saving time (DST) and UTC-2 hours during DST. Brazil currently has three time zones and abolished a fourth time zone in 2008.

National Congress of Brazil building in Brasilia.

Cities such as Brasilia, where Brazil's National Congress building is located (pictured above), may observe one time zone in unity with other places throughout the country if the recent time zone proposal is approved.

©iStockphoto.com/Mark Van Overmeire

Proposal to Unify Brazil Timewise

The Committee of Economic Affairs (CAE) in the Senate decided on June 16, 2009, to approve the bill requesting for all of Brazil to observe one time zone. The proposal is referred to as PLS - Projeto De Lei Do Senado, Nº 486 de 2008 (or PLS – Draft Law of the Senate, No. 486,2008 in English). The Committee of Foreign Affairs and National Defense must also approve the proposal before it is passed in the House of Representatives. It eventually will be made into law if it succeeds in the all processes involved for approval.

Senator Arthur Virgílio authored this time zone proposal, which aims to benefit people by synchronizing business hours across the nation. The proposal aims to enhance economic transactions and business activities in Brazil. Those who support the proposal believe that it will ensure an improved alignment in the banking system.

Public Criticism

The time zone proposal has met backlash from many people. Some people felt that it was a waste of tax payers’ money and some felt that the country needed more than one time zone due to its large geographic size. Many people felt that the bill did not go through a proper consultation process with the general public and that their voices were not heard.

The bill also received criticism from political leaders such as Senator Geraldo Mesquita Júnior, who reiterated people’s concern for the bill. He compared the bill with “changing the date of the carnival without consulting the population” (cited in Senado Federal: Mudança no fuso horário desagrada população do Acre, diz Mesquita Júnior).

Some sources say that this proposal could cost the popularity of Senator Tião Viana, who was actively involved in previous time zone changes in recent times.  Some believed that he was concerned with his popularity’s decline in the state of Acre, which once observed a fourth time zone in Brazil. Acre shares the same time zone with Amazonas. It is on UTC-4 hours when it is not on DST and UTC-3 hours during DST.

Current Time Zone

Brazil has three time zones (as shown during the non-DST period):

  • The first time zone, UTC-2 hours, comprises areas such as the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
  • The second time zone, UTC-3 hours, comprises areas such as the entire coast of Brazil, the Federal District and the interior (except Mato Grosso and Amazonas).
  • The third time zone, UTC-4 hours, comprises the states of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Amazonas, Rondonia, Roraima and Acre.

These time zones move one hour forward during DST. Brazil’s DST start and end dates may change over time and are not necessarily followed by all states. States that observe the daylight saving schedule may also change from year to year.

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