The Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida, said today, during a public hearing at the Mines and Energy Commission in the Chamber of Deputies, that it is not possible to interfere in Petrobras’ pricing policy. The speech comes a day after the resignation of the company’s president, José Mauro Coelho, amid political pressure over fuel prices. Coelho had been nominated by the government in April.
It is not possible to interfere in the price of fuels. It’s not in the government’s control, and honestly, pricing is a company decision, not the government’s.
Adolfo Sachsida, Minister of Mines and Energy, in an audience at the Chamber
“In addition, we have legal frameworks that prevent government intervention in the management of the company, even if the government is a majority shareholder,” added the minister.
Despite what the minister says, the Union is the controlling shareholder of Petrobras, which gives it prerogatives. experts heard by UOL claim that the government can interfere indirectly, changing the president of the company or putting the public interest above that of shareholders.
‘Privatization is a long-term solution’
Sachsida also spoke about the possibility of privatizing the company. For him, this is a solution, because it would generate competition in the sector. The minister, however, stated that this is a long-term measure.
“Privatization has wonderful effects on competition, when it is well designed”, he defended. A well-designed privatization process, which brings competition to the sector, which brings more players, more companies, will generate a tremendous gain in the well-being of consumers and Brazilian society. I believe this is the long-term path that should be followed.”
Upon being nominated for the position, in early May, Sachsida said he had the approval of President Bolsonaro to start studies on the privatization of Petrobras. Earlier this month, Bolsonaro treated the issue as something time-consuming. According to the president, it would take at least four years for this process to be completed.
Minister says Petrobras will follow the law
Sachsida stated that the new Petrobras Board of Directors appointed by the federal government will follow the law in relation to the definition of fuel pricing policies.
The statement was made amid recurring complaints by Bolsonaro about Petrobras’ price readjustments, which follow international quotations.
The federal government nominated eight names for the council, including a new executive president, to renew the collegiate, in the face of dissatisfaction with the state’s pricing policy.
“The new CA [Conselho de Administração] Petrobras will follow the law, this is what we will always follow. Because there are legal regulations, and this government respects the law,” he said.
The minister also stated that the government does not work with price control ideas, despite the fact that the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, head of Sachsida until May, asked the supermarket chain to “lock down” prices for two or three months. .
Freezing, with all due respect, is the idea of economists who belong to another strand of economic thought.
Sachsida echoed a speech often adopted by members of the federal government, attributing the rise in the value of gasoline and diesel to Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has reduced oil supplies.
“Yes, there is a problem of taxation in the price of fuel,” he added, addressing another point commonly used by President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and his ministers to explain the rise in prices.
The administration and Congress have been working on proposals to cut fuel taxes to try to hold back the values. However, experts warn of the risk of the tax cut being offset by other factors, mainly by the increase in prices by Petrobras.
Shortly after Congress passed the 17% limit for states’ ICMS, for example, Petrobras announced increases in diesel and gasoline.
‘I thought it was good to promote exchange’ at Petrobras
Petrobras announced yesterday the resignation of the president of Petrobras, José Mauro Coelho, who also left the Board of Directors of the state-owned company. He was the third to command the company during Bolsonaro’s administration. Fernando Borges, Executive Director of Exploration and Production, assumed the presidency of the state-owned company on an interim basis.
In his speech, Sachsida said that he was responsible for Coelho’s departure and that the reason was “to increase competition”. “As soon as I took over as minister, I thought it was good to promote a change in the company, because I believe it is time to increase competition,” he said.
Despite having previously argued that the current high fuel prices are caused by the low supply of oil and taxes, the minister also stated that a change in the state-owned company’s structure is necessary: ”There is no way to help Brazilian consumers with the current structure” .
Coelho’s departure took place after an escalation of criticism by President Jair Bolsonaro and the Speaker of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PL). Last Friday (17), Petrobras announced new increases in the price of gasoline and diesel for distributors.
After the resignation, Bolsonaro himself proposed the creation of a CPI (Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry) to investigate Petrobras – which he repeatedly says has exaggerated profits.
*With information from Reuters.