Brazil ploughs ahead with sale of state assets

15 Aug 19

Brazil has privatised nearly $20bn of assets and investments since the election of right-wing populist president Jair Bolsonaro, according to a government minister.

Secretary of state for privatisation, divestment and markets Salim Mattar announced on Monday that the government’s sweeping programme of privatisation was going as planned.

He said: "We have rolled up our sleeves trying to put Brazil on track and transform the country into an open society, on the path to prosperity.

“We want to sell assets to reduce the size of the state and the size of debt.

“Our state is rich, but the population is poor. In the past, the state used the citizen, but now is the time for the state to serve the citizen.”

Since Bolsonaro’s administration came to power, it has sold off $12.3bn from state oil company Petrobras, including a refinery in Texas and a network of service stations in Paraguay, as well as transportation and distribution companies.

It has also sold $4.9bn in shares held in various companies, and made $1.9bn from leases on airports, railways and ports.

The president, who took office on 1 January, won the election on a programme promising to shrink the state.

On 19 March, Bolsonaro said: “In Brazil, privatisations are aimed at anti-corruption as well as income generation and jobs.

“We follow the promises during the campaign: to take everything from the state that can be administered by private initiative.”

In 2018, Brazil’s public debt reached 88% of gross domestic product.

The IMF recommended in July this year that Brazil undertook “decisive structural reforms” to raise potential growth, including privatisation, tax reforms and liberalising trade regulations.

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