reform -Meirelles@ (Adds details, quotes)
SAO PAULO, May 29 (Reuters) - Brazil's economy grew around 0.7 percent in the first quarter versus the previous one and will likely end the year in positive territory despite a dip in the second quarter, Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles said on Monday.
Speaking to foreign reporters, Meirelles said the government has no alternative plan to its proposed pension reform, denying local media reports that the government could issue decrees to reduce retirement benefits if its proposal is rejected in Congress.
"It is not an alternative to pass pension reform by decree. There is no plan B," Meirelles told reporters. "There is only a plan A."
Meirelles said that official data on first-quarter gross domestic product, due on Thursday, would show an increase of roughly 0.7 percent versus the previous quarter, equivalent to an annualized rate of between 2.5 and 3.0 percent.
However, Meirelles said that growth would likely dip in the second quarter, when the government has been hit by a crisis sparked by plea bargain deals by executives at meatpacking company JBS who accused President Michel Temer of endorsing the alleged bribery of a potential witness.
"Our expectation is that there will be a slowdown in that rate of growth in the second quarter and that we will reach the end of 2017 with the economy growing a little faster," said Meirelles. "The economy should enter 2018 growing at a rate of around 3 percent." (Reporting by Daniel Flynn; Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Sandra Maler and Dan Grebler)