The chemist José Mauro Ferreira Coelho resigned this Monday (20) as president of Petrobras. The state-owned company communicated Ferreira’s decision this morning and informed that its board of directors should define an interim president for the company.
Ferreira’s departure from the state-owned company takes place two days after a new increase in fuel prices by Petrobras. On Saturday (18), gasoline sold by the state-owned company to distributors rose 5.1%; diesel, 14.2%.
:: Petrobras announces a 5% increase in gasoline and a 14% increase in diesel ::
The adjustment was announced on Friday (17). The day before, on Thursday (16), the Petrobras board – composed mostly of members appointed by the government – discussed the matter at an extraordinary meeting and gave its approval for the readjustment.
The council has 11 members. Of these, six were appointed by the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL). According to the newspaper columnist The globeLauro Jardim, the six were in favor of the fuel readjustment.
Despite this, Bolsonaro used the increase as a justification for attack Petrobras and the then president of the company, appointed by him to the position in April – that is, just two months ago. The successive increases in fuel prices hamper Bolsonaro’s re-election campaign.
Also on Friday, Bolsonaro said he would articulate the creation of a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) on Ferreira and the Petrobras summit. “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 is something wrong with their conduct.”
This articulation, according to Bolsonaro himself, would have the collaboration of the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira (PP-AL), an ally of the president. Lira, by the way, also began to criticize the then president of Petrobras after the fuel adjustment.
“The president of Petrobras has to resign immediately,” he wrote on twitter on Friday. “Get out!!! Because its management is an act of corporate terrorism.”
:: On the verge of the election, Lira says he is angry with Petrobras prices ::
José Mauro Ferreira was nominated for the presidency of Petrobras by the government itself after the resignation of retired general Joaquim da Silva e Luna. Ferreira was the government’s second option. Before him, the government appointed consultant Adriano Pires to the position, but he gave up, as he provides services to Petrobras competitors.
In his inaugural speech, Ferreira thanked Bolsonaro. He promised to maintain Petrobras’ current fuel pricing policy, which ties the value of gasoline and diesel sold in the country to the cost of oil abroad.
Analysis | Could the price of fuel be cheaper?
This policy was defined during the government of President Michel Temer (MDB), in 2016, and maintained during the Bolsonaro government. It generated record profits for Petrobras. The numbers were always announced by the government as positive for the country.
In recent months, however, Bolsonaro has come to criticize the policy. Although he never acted to change it, he began to criticize its profits and its consequences for the country’s economy. In 2022 alone, gasoline sold by Petrobras accumulates an increase of 31%. Already diesel, 68% increase.
In May, Bolsonaro announced that he wanted to remove Ferreira from the presidency of the state-owned company and put in his place Caio Mário Paes de Andrade, current special secretary Debureaucratization of the Ministry of Economy, commanded by Paulo Guedes. Andrade’s resume is being analyzed by Petrobras to see if he has the necessary experience to preside over the company. Oil workers have already denounced that he does not have it.
Confusion over privatization
Amid criticism and exchanges during his presidency, political pressure for the privatization of Petrobras grows. Rosangela Buzanelli, an employee and member of the company’s board of directors, denounced this movement in an interview with Brazil de facto.
According to her, Bolsonaro and Lira act to weaken the state-owned company and justify the sale of their control. “This is orchestrated. This whole campaign that Bolsonaro is doing against Petrobras is in the sense of blaming it for the high price, of co-opting popular opinion to support this privatization”, she explained, later this month.
:: Petrobras advisor warns: Bolsonaro feigns dissatisfaction to privatize state-owned ::
Lira has already told party leaders that he wants to vote on a bill to sell part of the Union’s stake in the state-owned company, privatizing it as happened with Eletrobras. For Lira, the project must be sent by the federal government to Congress so that it has greater political force.
Editing: Felipe Mendes