The Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida, said this Tuesday (21), during a public hearing at the Chamber’s Mines and Energy Commission, that the government cannot interfere in fuel prices.
The statement was given after the president of Petrobras, José Mauro Coelho, resigned this Monday (20), due to political pressure from the government and allies. It is the second time that the federal government changes the presidency of Petrobras this year, in an attempt to contain prices.
“It is difficult for the population to understand why the government does not interfere with fuel prices. It is not possible to interfere with fuel prices, it is not in the government’s control. Price is the company’s decision, not the government’s. government interference, even though it is a majority shareholder,” said the minister.
President Jair Bolsonaro had already decided to remove Mauro Coelho in charge of the company and had already chosen his successor, Caio Paes de Andrade. However, due to Petrobras’ internal procedures, the exchange would only take place after a few weeks.
In recent days, Bolsonaro and allies, including the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), have intensified pressure for Mauro Coelho to ask to leave. That’s because the president and his team decided to blame Petrobras for the soaring fuel prices.
In internal government meetings, Bolsonaro has told aides that new fuel increases will make him “lose reelection”. Therefore, according to Ana Flor’s blog, Bolsonaro said that he does not want any further adjustments to diesel, gasoline and cooking gas until the election in October.
Petrobras is subject to the criterion of international parity, a policy adopted since the Michel Temer government in 2016. As a result, the price of fuel varies according to the price of a barrel of oil on the international market and fluctuations in the dollar. With this argument, announced last Friday (17), a new adjustment in the prices of gasoline and diesel.
According to the Minister of Mines and Energy, Petrobras’ profit was higher than that of oil companies in other countries. “Petrobras is distributing a lot of dividends and having reasonable profits. In the first quarter, the company had the highest net profit, but equity is sixth, and production is sixth,” he declared.
Adolfo Sachsida also cited the measures recently announced by the government and Congress to try to ease the rise in fuel prices for the population, such as gas assistance, reduction of federal taxes and the limitation of ICMS, a state tax.
The bill establishes that these products and services are to be considered essential goods and services, and prohibits states from charging a rate higher than the general ICMS rate, which varies between 17% and 18%, on these items. Currently, these goods and services are classified as superfluous, and the ICMS levied in some states exceeds 30%.
“Congress is trying to resolve this issue. There is indeed a problem of taxation on fuel prices. And the federal government is trying to ease it by lowering federal taxes, and limiting taxation of subnational entities. [estados]a move that finds support in the main European economies and in several American states, which are reducing taxation to reduce the economic effect of the war in Ukraine on the population in need,” said the minister.
However, when commenting on the limitation of the ICMS of the states in the last week, the president of the National Committee of Secretaries of Finance, Finance, Revenue or Taxation of the States and the Federal District (Comsefaz), Décio Padilha, said that the constant increases in the price of fuels , in recent months, “have absolutely nothing to do with ICMS [Imposto Sobre Circulação de Mercadorias e Serviços, tributo estadual]”.
“It’s no use zeroing, ending the tribute [ICMS]. The problem is conjunctural [momentâneo, relativo à guerra na Ucrânia] and it is not resolved with a structural solution, which is the ICMS that will affect health and education for many years, since 25% of the ICMS necessarily goes to education, and at least 12% goes to health, another 25% we have to pass to the public policies of the municipalities”, declared Décio Padilha.
The proposal has received criticism from states and municipalities, which estimate a loss of revenue of up to R$ 83 billion, with the potential to compromise public policies and services in areas such as health and education.
State Finance secretaries have publicly defended the creation of a fuel price equalization fund, which has already been approved by the Federal Senate, but has not yet passed the scrutiny of the Chamber of Deputies. Therefore, it is still not valid.