Petrobras announced this Friday (17) a new increase in fuel prices. This will be the third gasoline adjustment carried out by the state-owned company this year alone, and the fourth in the case of diesel. For President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), however, the culprit for the rises is the president of Petrobras, who took office just over two months ago.
Chemist José Mauro Ferreira was nominated for the presidency of Petrobras by the government itself in April, when diesel had already risen 35% in 2022 alone. Ferreira thanked Bolsonaro in his inauguration speech. Two months later, he was chosen as the new “villain” of the soaring fuel price precisely by those who put him in charge of the state-owned company.
:: Petrobras announces 5% increase in gasoline and 14% in diesel ::
Hours after Petrobras announced the increase, President Bolsonaro himself said, in an interview in Rio Grande do Norte, that he defended the creation of a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) to investigate Ferreira, along with the directors of the state-owned company and members of its members. administrative and fiscal councils.
“Our idea is to propose a CPI to investigate the president of Petrobras, its directors and also the administrative and fiscal council”, said the president. “We want to know if there’s something wrong with their conduct.”
Ferreira is a member of Petrobras’ board of directors. The body has 11 members. Six of them were appointed by the government, which is Petrobras’ controlling shareholder.
An extraordinary meeting of this council was held on Thursday (17) to discuss the fuel readjustment announced this Friday. Despite Bolsonaro’s protests against the increase, all those nominated by his government gave their approval to the increase, according to columnist Lauro Jardim, from O Globo.
Regardless, the president of the Chamber of Deputies also attacked Ferreira on account of the Petrobras readjustment and asked him to immediately resign from the presidency of Petrobras.
:: On the verge of the election, Lira says he is angry with Petrobras prices ::
“The president of Petrobras has to resign immediately”, wrote Lira, on Twitter, shortly after the announcement of the readjustment. “He only represents himself and what he does will leave a legacy of destruction for the company, the country and the people. Get out!!!”
The president of Petrobras has to resign immediately. Not because of my personal will, but because he does not represent the majority shareholder of the company – Brazil – and, worse, works systematically against the Brazilian people in the country’s worst crisis.
— Arthur Lira (@ArthurLira_) June 17, 2022
Hypocrisy and originality
For the president of the Workers’ Party (PT), federal deputy Gleisi Hoffmann, the election of a new culprit for the rise in prices is part of a government strategy to try to remove its responsibility for the increase on the eve of the election. Gleisi said that Petrobras’ pricing policy could have been changed a long time ago if Bolsonaro had wanted to. For her, the revolt is nothing more than hypocrisy.
“Faltando pouco mais de 100 dias para as eleições, o presidente da Câmara, Arthur Lira, faz coro com Bolsonaro para culpar exclusivamente a diretoria da Petrobrás pela extorsão nos preços dos combustíveis. Grande hipocrisia”, escreveu ela, no twitter.
With just over 100 days to go before the elections, the president of the Chamber, Artur Lira, joins Bolsonaro in exclusively blaming the Petrobras board for the extortion of fuel prices. Great hypocrisy.
— Gleisi Hoffmann (@gleisi) June 17, 2022
The former governor of Maranhão and former judge, Flávio Dino (PSB), said that Bolsonaro’s alleged revolt could create an unprecedented case in the history of law: “the president of the Republic wants a CPI to investigate Petrobras, which is part of the government that he heads. And therefore investigate the presidents of Petrobras that he himself appointed. In other words, does he want to investigate himself?”, joked Dino, also on Twitter.
An unprecedented case in the history of Law: the President of the Republic wants a CPI to investigate Petrobras, which is part of the government he heads. And therefore to investigate the presidents of Petrobras that he himself appointed. That is, does he want to investigate himself?
— Flávio Dino 🇺🇸 (@FlavioDino) June 17, 2022
The president of the Unique Federation of Oil Workers (FUP), Deyvid Bacelar, stressed that the rise in fuel prices is linked to Petrobras’ price policy, implemented in 2016, during the Michel Temer government (MDB) and maintained under the Bolsonaro administration. This policy links the prices of gasoline, diesel and gas sold in Brazil to the cost of oil abroad, despite the fact that Petrobras produces much of the country’s needs here.
:: Analysis | Could the price of fuel be cheaper? ::
During the three years of Bolsonaro’s government, Petrobras has had three presidents. None of them acted to change this policy. Before Ferreira took over as head of the state-owned company, the government even nominated consultant Adriano Pires for the position. He gave up taking over Petrobras precisely because he had worked for companies that benefit from high prices.
Last month, Bolsonaro announced Ferreira’s resignation and nominated Caio Paes de Andrade for the presidency of Petrobras. He has not yet taken over the state-owned company as he awaits internal procedures. Paes de Andrade is the current secretary for reducing bureaucracy at the Ministry of Economy, led by Paulo Guedes. Guedes has defended numerous times that state-owned companies act as private companies, relegating their social function.
And the ICMS?
Before blaming the president of Petrobras for the rise in fuels, Bolsonaro used to blame the Tax on Circulation of Market and Services for the increases. The president was one of the main supporters of the proposal that limited the tax rate levied by states on gasoline and diesel to 17% – there are states that charge 30%.
:: Chamber approves ICMS limit on fuel ::
The bill on the subject was approved by the National Congress this week. The text awaits the sanction of President Bolsonaro to become law and enter into force.
This Friday, Petrobras readjusted diesel by 14.2% and gasoline by 5.2%. This implies that, depending on the state, it is possible that the ICMS limit has no practical effect to lower the fuel, especially in the case of diesel.
Editing: Thalita Pires