Electricity and diesel prices became targets of offensive by Congress and government
Package of measures seeks to neutralize readjustments authorized by Aneel and grant subsidy to truck drivers
The Jair Bolsonaro government (PL) and the congressional summit are preparing a new offensive to reduce adjustments to the electricity bill and fuel prices less than five months before the elections.
Articulators of the agreement estimate that the package of measures could lead to a reduction of approximately 20% in electricity bills and practically neutralize the readjustments planned for this year – some of them exceeding 20%.
The negotiations are intensified at a time when Bolsonaro’s disadvantage widens in the polls in relation to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT). A new survey by Datafolha shows the former president with 54% of valid votes, enough for him to be victorious in the 1st round if the election took place today.
Parliamentarians allied to the government are committed to the articulations because they seek re-election to their respective positions this year and are concerned about the size of the increases in energy tariffs, an item that strains the pockets of especially low-income consumers.
Government pressures Aneel to anticipate resources that subsidize electricity bills
The list of proposals includes measures to inject resources into the CDE (Energy Development Account), which funds subsidies and discounts on electricity bills.
On one of the fronts, the government and Congress pressure Aneel (National Electric Energy Agency) to include in the CDE budget a revenue of R$ 5 billion that will come from the capitalization of Eletrobras.
The amount may provide a 2.3% reduction in tariffs, but it was not foreseen by the regulatory agency due to the uncertainties surrounding the company’s privatization process — which still needed to be scrutinized by the TCU (Union Court of Auditors).
With the final approval of the model by the court of accounts, which includes the allocation of R$ 5 billion to the CDE later this year, there is an articulation behind the scenes so that the agency can immediately account for the resource. This would allow an extraordinary tariff review for all consumers.
The MME (Ministry of Mines and Energy) sent a letter to Aneel on May 23 informing that the contribution to the CDE should be made by the end of July. In practice, according to government sources, the document serves for the regulatory agency to speed up the procedures and grant the discount on the tariff soon.
In a first signal, Aneel extended for 15 days the tariffs currently practiced by Cemig, which serves 8.8 million consumer units in Minas Gerais. “We agreed to extend the tariff readjustment so that the R$ 5 billion that are guaranteed with the capitalization process [da Eletrobras] already bring tariff attenuation not only for consumers of Minas Gerais, but also of other units of the federation”, said the rapporteur of the process, Sandoval Feitosa, director of Aneel.
Government and Congress articulate to anticipate renewal of concessions
With an eye on the medium to long term, the government and Congress also want to include in the bill 414/2021, which deals with the new legal framework for the electricity sector, an authorization for the early renewal of concession contracts for a set of hydroelectric power plants in the Union that do not operated by Eletrobras.
The renegotiation of these contracts would generate a new grant payment – an amount transferred by the companies to the State in exchange for the right to exploit a certain public asset.
In general, the grant amounts are intended for the Union’s cash. But the government’s idea is to give up part of the resources, which would be used to lower energy tariffs.
Government officials consulted by the Sheet mention a 50% share for the CDE, which would result in an injection of up to R$10 billion in the account that finances energy discounts. The average reduction in tariffs is estimated at 5%.
The proposal has already been discussed by the Ministry of Economy, by the new Minister of Mines and Energy, Adolfo Sachsida, and by members of Congress. However, this is a more medium-term measure: processing would take place around 210 days after the text was sanctioned.
Another problem is that a wing of deputies wants to include in the text the Brasduto, a fund to subsidize the expansion of a network of gas pipelines to serve thermoelectric plants. The government resists, due to the billionaire cost, but lawmakers say they will stop voting on the text if it is not included.
There are also negotiations to prohibit the charging of ICMS on the value of tariff flags, an additional charge that raises the electricity bill at times of higher energy generation costs (when there is a shortage in reservoirs, for example).
Return of credits to electricity consumers generates dispute with distributors
The government and Congress are also articulating the vote on a bill that returns consumers an invoice of R$ 60 billion in PIS/Cofins credits, constituted after the STF (Federal Supreme Court) determined the withdrawal of ICMS from the calculation basis. of the federal tax.
According to government estimates, the measure alone can generate an average reduction of 5.2% in tariffs.
as showed the Sheetthis benefit is currently disputed by distributors, who want to appropriate a portion of these tax credits.
In 2017, the court ruled that the collection of PIS/Cofins on the state tax was wrong, and the Union had to reimburse companies in the tens of billions. In the case of energy, however, the tax has always been borne by the consumer, through tariffs.
Based on this argument, the project determines the full destination of the refunded amounts to reduce users’ electricity bills.
The expectation is that the text will result in an immediate absorption of this benefit. The measure, however, must face resistance from distributors, who not only want to keep a part of the funds, but may also face cash difficulties if all credits become a discount at once.
The discussion of voting on these projects comes in the wake of the approval, by the Chamber, of a ceiling for charging ICMS on energy. The proposal still needs Senate approval, but it would have the effect of reducing tariffs by 6.6%, according to internal government estimates.
Subsidy to truck drivers is proposed to offset higher fuel prices
On another front, the government also wants to attack the rise in fuel prices, which remains an obstacle to Bolsonaro’s electoral ambitions.
Therefore, the Ministry of Economy and the Chamber’s leadership are discussing the creation of a subsidy for truck drivers, which can occur through the delivery of a voucher to members of the category.
Another idea, defended by the new nominee for the presidency of Petrobras, Caio Mario Paes de Andrade, is to give transparency and publicity to the calculation of the state-owned company that sets the price of fuels.
The proposal is to approve a project authored by the leader of the PT, Reginaldo Lopes (MG), which makes it mandatory to disclose the prices and costs of the state-owned company in the sale of oil derivatives. The opposition asked for a vote on the text as a counterpart to the approval of the project that set a ceiling for ICMS on fuel.
“It is mandatory to disclose the values referring to the components that influence the prices of oil derivatives sold in the country by Petrobras”, says the Lopes project.
The assessment of government officials is that giving transparency to the state-owned company’s account can serve as ammunition for Bolsonaro in his speeches. The bet of these allies is that it will be clear that the company charges exaggerated prices and benefits from the account.
MEASURES FOR ENERGY AND FUELS
- Contribution of R$ 5 billion from the privatization of Eletrobras to the CDE (Energy Development Account): reduction of 2.3% in the electricity bill
- Project that provides full refund of PIS/Cofins credits to consumers: 5.2% reduction in electricity bills
- Early renewal of concessions for plants not operated by Eletrobras: investment of another R$ 10 billion in the CDE, with a 5% reduction in the electricity bill
- Project establishing a ceiling for charging ICMS on energy: 6.6% reduction in electricity bills
- Prohibition of charging ICMS on additional cost caused by energy tariff flags: impact not estimated
- Valid for truck drivers and taxi drivers and apps: estimated cost of BRL 1.5 billion for the Union
- Disclosure of the composition of fuel prices practiced by Petrobras: no significant impact on prices, but may increase transparency