The Minister of the Federal Audit Court (TCU) Aroldo Cedraz on Friday (4) denied a request from the Public Ministry for Caixa Econômica Federal to stop making new payroll-deductible loans to beneficiaries of Auxílio Brasil.
The request was made by deputy attorney Lucas Furtado before the second round of elections. He had also requested an evaluation of the criteria adopted by the public bank for the concession, in order to prevent its use for merely electoral purposes.
Cedraz also ordered the file to be archived. The TCU is an external control body that assists Congress in monitoring the country’s budget and financial execution.
The minister said that the information presented by Caixa in the process “completely ruled out the alleged irregularity regarding the non-observance of essential operational procedures or risk analysis and prior to the decision to offer the payroll loan to the beneficiaries of Auxílio Brasil”.
“The examination of the supporting elements brought to the case by Caixa demonstrates that the decision regarding the offer of a payroll loan to beneficiaries of Auxílio Brasil observed corporate governance rites, with approvals by the competent bodies”, he said, in his decision.
He also said that Caixa’s payroll-deductible offers had “analyses referring to the definition of irrecoverable limits, operation costs and pricing, and their commercial and financial viability was evidenced, as well as that the product is in line with the strategic planning of that public bank and that other financial institutions also offer it”.
When submitting the request to the TCU, the Public Ministry had said that “with the approach of the second round of elections and with the difficulties faced by the president [Jair Bolsonaro] in polls of voting intentions, everything indicates that it is a measure intended to primarily serve political-electoral interests, which relegate the public interest to the background, with a view to obtaining personal benefits to the detriment of the population”.
The deputy attorney had cited a report published in the Sheet which reported that Caixa released R$ 1.8 billion in payroll-deductible loans to 700,000 beneficiaries of Auxílio Brasil and BPC (Benefício de Prestação Continuada) in three days of operation. More up-to-date data show that the value rose to R$4.2 billion by October 21.
Caixa began offering the new loan on October 11, with an interest rate of 3.45% per month — just below the ceiling of 3.5% per month set by the Ministry of Citizenship. The loan has a term of up to two years, in 24 successive monthly installments.
Deputy Attorney Furtado had stated that there were doubts as to whether the procedures intended to safeguard the bank’s interests and, consequently, the public interest were being respected.
He cited article 173 of the Federal Constitution, which says that the direct exploitation of economic activity by the State will only be allowed when necessary for the imperatives of national security or the relevant collective interest, as defined by law.
On the 26th, Minister Kassio Nunes Marques, of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), had also denied a request from the PDT for an (urgent) injunction against the law that authorized the granting of payroll-deductible loans to beneficiaries of the Auxílio Brasil program.
The law was created from a provisional measure edited by the Jair Bolsonaro government and approved by Congress in July. In August, shortly before the end of the electoral convention period, the president signed the law into law.
In the request to the Supreme, the PDT argued that the measures are irresponsible, because they increase the probability of households indebtedness and could affect the entire economic system. The caption said that the law violates the economic order, consumer protection and human dignity.
Kassio stated in his decision that the approval of the public policy for credit expansion “is inserted in a context of promoting assistance to families hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The option to pass the law, he said, seeks to “guarantee Brazilian families, who were experiencing difficulties (following the pandemic and high food prices), a cheap credit option, namely to pay off more expensive debts”.