Mendonça extends deadline for company to explain readjustments

Minister André Mendonça, of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), responded today to Petrobras’ request and extended the deadline for the company to respond to the Court’s requests on fuel readjustments until July 1st.

“In view of the reasonableness of the claim and the principle of procedural cooperation (article 6 of the Code of Civil Procedure), I grant the additional period requested until July 1, 2022, in the exact terms requested, pursuant to article 21, I and II, from the RISTF”, wrote Mendonça.

On the 17th, Mendonça ordered the state-owned company to inform, within five days – valid until today –, about the criteria adopted for the price policy established in the last 60 months by the oil company. On the same day of the Court’s determination, the state-owned company had announced the readjustment in the value of gasoline by 5.2% and that of diesel by 14.2%.

On Wednesday (22), then, Petrobras made the request to the minister asking for the deadline to be extended.

Mendonça’s decision is taken within the scope of the action being processed by the Court and which discusses the regulation of the States on the single ICMS (Tax on the Circulation of Goods and Services) for fuels. Last week, the minister determined that the ICMS rates levied on all fuels must be the same throughout the country, as of July 1st.

In response to Mendonça’s determination, the state-owned company claimed a “large volume of data to be analyzed to determine the information and documentation requested”.

MP-RJ investigates Petrobras on suspicion of impropriety

The State Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro (MP-RJ) opened an investigation to investigate signs of administrative impropriety by Petrobras’ management in recent fuel price adjustments. The civil investigation was opened in November last year at the Attorney General’s Office in Rio, but was sent to the state agency on the 15th of this month. The state-owned company was contacted, but did not respond.

The investigation integrates a series of actions by different bodies with the aim of tightening the siege against the state-owned company. Last week, Petrobras readjusted the value of gasoline and diesel by, respectively, 5.2% and 14.2%, which generated an immediate reaction in political sectors. President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), for example, publicly defended the installation of a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) against the company to investigate alleged irregularities in the formulation of the fuel price policy.

Another Petrobras investigation front is led by the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (Cade), which has at least eleven cases directly or indirectly involving the company. Part of the investigations aims at the readjustments practiced by the state-owned company. The latest revision of fuel prices raised gasoline sold at refineries by 20 cents, which now costs R$ 4.06 per liter. Already diesel, which now costs R$ 5.61 a liter, had an increase of 70 cents.

The most recent readjustment led to the resignation of the then president of Petrobras, José Mauro Coelho, who had been pressured by Bolsonaro. The president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (Progressistas-AL), started to endorse the criticism of the state-owned company and became one of the defenders of the installation of the CPI.

Bolsonaro sanctions ICMS limit

President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) sanctioned, in an extra edition of the Official Gazette yesterday, the bill passed in Congress that limits the ICMS. However, the Chief Executive vetoed compensation to states to maintain the same amounts of spending on health and education as before the sanction.

The new law classifies items such as diesel, gasoline, electricity, communications and public transport as essential. As a result, states cannot charge a rate higher than the rate, which varies between 17% and 18%.

In addition to the veto on compensation to the constitutional floors of health and education, the contracting of loans to states that already had the rate provided for in the new law was also vetoed. The president maintained compensation for indebted entities that had a loss in collection above 5% in the comparison between 2022 and 2021.

President Jair Bolsonaro’s vetoes come after, according to the UOL, the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, hit the hammer regarding the expansion by R$ 200, to R$ 600 per month, of the value of Auxílio Brasil (ex-Bolsa Família) and the launch of the truck driver aid of R$ 1,000, nicknamed “Pix Caminhoneiro”, to compensate for the rise in diesel in Brazil. O UOL found out that the minister also supports the idea of ​​doubling the value of the gas allowance, currently at R$53.

The view within the ministry is that ICMS compensation would have few short-term benefits and, with the exchange, it would not be necessary to depend on governors to reduce fuel prices at the pump. For the governmentists, the governors are judicializing the ICMS issue and politicizing the discourse.