While the fuel value soars above the prices of most other products in the country, the minimum wage it can barely cover the losses from inflation.
In January 2019, the first month of the current government, it was possible to buy at the average price measured by the ANP (National Agency for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels), 233.8 liters of regular gasoline with the national floor, at the time at R$ 998. Thirty-two months later, in August 2021, with the current R$ 1,100 it is only possible to purchase 185.7 liters.
Also read: What is the impact of the minimum wage of BRL 1,169 on the worker’s life
If the intention was to make up for this difference of 48.1 liters (popular cars have tanks of, on average, 50 liters) in the drivers’ budget, the minimum wage should be readjusted to just over R$ 1,384.00, and not for the BRL 1,169 provided for in the 2022 budget proposal sent by Planalto Palace to Congress on Tuesday (31).
The technical director of Dieese (Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socio-Economic Studies), Fausto Augusto Júnior, explains that the minimum function is to replace inflation losses in the previous period, which has not happened.
“From 2020 to 2021, the result of the INPC (National Consumer Price Index) was above the adjustment established by the government, from R$ 1,045 to R$ 1,100, and the difference was ignored”, he analyzes.
He says that this year the amount sent to Congress may also be out of date and will need to be corrected in January 2022, since the Union provided in its calculations a 6.2% readjustment in the national floor.
The INPC (National Consumer Price Index) is used to readjust the wage floor, as it is an indicator that represents the inflation of a considerable portion of the population.
According to the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), the index is very faithful to the price variation suffered by the population with monthly incomes between 1 and 5 minimum wages, covering ten metropolitan regions in the country. In other words, the use of INPC, in theory, leads to the maintenance of purchasing power.
Fausto Augusto adds that the increase in gasoline directly affects the middle class, which leaves more money at gas stations, but also the poorest people, usually those most affected by inflation.
“At one time or another, public transport fares will rise and, in the short term, the additional cost of fuel for industries and stores will be passed on to consumers,” he says.
Gasoline cost, according to the monthly bulletins of the ANP (National Petroleum Agency), BRL 4.268 on average in the country in January 2019. And it jumped to BRL 5.922 in the most recent balance sheet published by the agency. That is, the readjustment was 38.75%. The INPC, in the same period, was 15.69%, according to the Central Bank calculator.
If, considering the national average of fuel prices, Brazilians lost the ability to buy nearly 50 liters of gasoline, the situation is worse in some states.
In Santa Catarina, the minimum in early 2019 allowed for the purchase of 248 liters of regular gasoline (at R$4.017 per liter). Today, it only amounts to 192 (R$ 5,712), or 56 less.
“Items such as gasoline and electricity have a very large impact on inflation because they affect not only those who buy and use these products, but also indirectly the entire production chain, which puts expenses with fuel (freight, transport of workers) and with the cost of production, which gets saltier with the increase in electricity,” says Fausto Augusto Júnior.
When contacted, the Ministry of Economy said by e-mail that it would not comment on the report. On several occasions this year, the president jair Bolsonaro blamed the rise in fuel prices on governors, who would not accept reducing the amount of ICMS charged at gas stations.
“If it’s BRL 6 or BRL 7 a liter, which is absurd, and the federal tax is around BRL 0.70, let’s see who is being the villain in this story. It’s not the federal government,” he said , on August 18, by attributing the high price to the amount received by the States.
Bolsonaro’s calculation refers precisely to the percentage allocated to CIDE and PIS/Pasep and Cofins. In fact, current prices are a reflection of moves to contain the lag in relation to the price of oil on the international market and the devaluation of the real.
In other words, more than 70% of the price of a liter of gasoline and diesel at the pump corresponds to Petrobras’ profit and state and federal taxes.
See how the calculations are in the image below: