Lula says Lava Jato should not interdict debate on energy in the PT

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Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said this Friday (11th) that the speech of opponents according to which the PT broke up Petrobras cannot interdict the debate on energy policy within the party.

Meeting with economists and energy specialists, Lula encouraged his collaborators to present proposals for the energy sector, also pointing out the causes of the rise in fuel prices in Brazil.

The reversal of Eletrobras’ privatization process and the end of Petrobras’ PPI (Import Parity Price) were central themes of a meeting.

According to participants, the former president recommended that allies not be embarrassed by allegations of irregularities at Petrobras during the PT administration, the target of Operation Lava Jato. But, on the contrary, defend the energy policy of your government, in addition to presenting solutions for the sector.

Present at the meeting, Senator Jean Paul Prates (RN) says that, for Lula, the topic should not be banned, but debated.

In the Senate, Prates is the rapporteur of the proposal to reduce taxes on fuels – according to him, a palliative measure to stop the rise in consumer prices. This Friday, he made a presentation of his opinion to Lula.

The proposal being processed in Congress was one of the agendas of the meeting, which was attended by former president Dilma Rousseff and former Petrobras president Sérgio Gabrielli.

By teleconference, Maurício Tolmasquim, who was president of the Energy Research Company of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, and Nelson Hubner, former director of Aneel (National Electric Energy Agency) also participated. Lula did not speak to the press at the end of the meeting.

The assessment is that fuel inflation is caused by Petrobras’ current policy. One of the main targets of criticism is the internationalization of prices practiced in Brazil at a time when self-sufficiency is being reached.

As a way out for the sector, economists defended the interruption of the Eletrobras privatization process and what they call the slicing of Petrobras. With Lula’s encouragement, the group proposes a review of fuel refining and distribution policies in Brazil.

Among the proposals are the expansion of the refining capacity and the increase of the shareholding of the Union in BR Distribuidora, for example.

According to participants, the essence of Lula’s speech was that in order to dream of the Brazil of the future, energy sovereignty is necessary. Hence, the importance of Petrobras and Eletrobras. For meeting participants, it is possible to maintain shareholder profit without penalizing consumers.

In a conversation with journalists after the meeting, former minister Aloizio Mercadante (PT) defended that the fight against inflation should be based on other economic measures and not just supported by the interest rate policy of the Central Bank.

Just over a week ago, the Central Bank’s Copom (Monetary Policy Committee) raised the Selic to 10.75%, in an attempt to contain the general increase in prices.

“[A privatização da Eletrobras] it will mean the same thing that is happening with Petrobras today,” said Mercadante. “We are going to work hard on this issue. Good thing TCU [Tribunal de Contas da União] is reviewing this big mistake,” he said.

On the 15th, the plenary of the Federal Audit Court will meet to evaluate the first stage of the privatization process of the public company, but the forecast is that the process will be paralyzed by a proposal by Minister Vital do Rêgo to recalculate the bonus to be paid by Eletrobras to the Union.

“If you pass [a privatização] as it is, it will certainly be reviewed, as it is a crime against the homeland, but I do not believe that the process will be completed. For those who want to buy, I would recommend waiting,” PT president Gleisi Hoffmann told reporters after the meeting.

For Senator Jean Paul Prates, the reversal of the Eletrobras privatization process would not be traumatic. According to him, the state-owned energy company is in a position to remain a company attractive to conservative investors — but not to speculators, he said.

The fundamental discussion, said Mercadante, is that Brazil needs to regain competitiveness and re-industrialize itself. Energy, in this sense, would be a determining factor. “Why are we going to lose our ability to amortize the oscillations [por meio das estatais]?”

The former minister also defended Petrobras’ pricing policy from PT administrations. “I didn’t even pass [a alta do barril de petróleo] when it rose, nor rebounded when it fell. She had a way to cushion those price shocks,” she said.

Mercadante also criticized Petrobras’ decision, under Bolsonaro’s management, to exit the fertilizer market, considering the scale of national agricultural production. “Does it make sense for us to import fertilizers? It’s a competitive advantage [atuar no setor] If Petro delivers below the international price, we will leverage the sector.”

Dedicated to debating the price of fuel, this was another in a series of periodic meetings that Lula holds with specialists to discuss proposals for the country. The meetings take place at the Perseu Abramo Foundation (FPA), under the coordination of the Public Policy Monitoring Center (Napp).

The debate on inflation will be divided into three subgroups: food, fuel and electricity. There will also be a meeting on food and electricity.

This Friday, the figures for Petrobras were discussed, which, in 2021, distributed BRL 63.4 billion in dividends.

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