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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 December, 2003, 08:56 GMT
Lights go out at Brazil ministry
The ministry hadn't paid its bills for 10 months
The lights went out at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry on Friday - because it hadn't paid its bills.

For at least an hour and a half, power to the building in Brasilia was cut after the electricity board said it was owed over 1.78m Reals ($600,000).

In-house generators provided some power back-up, but several rooms were dark.

Power was restored after ministry officials promised to settle a small amount of the bill immediately and the rest within 10 days.

The electricity board complained that the ministry had failed to pay a bill since January, when the new Workers' Party administration took office.

Police threatened

The ministry promised to pay $120,000 immediately, with the remainder settled in 10 days.

A similar threat from the electricity board to cut power to the federal police headquarters was only averted through hasty negotiations, according to the Brazilian news website Estadao.

Correspondents say the foreign ministry has been operating on a tight budget recently, and in October needed an emergency handover of money from the ministry of planning to allow it to make urgent payments.

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