Federal government receives another R$ 8.8 billion from Petrobras’ profits

Despite criticism of Petrobras’ profits already made by President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), the federal government is among the biggest beneficiaries of the oil company’s financial results. This Monday (20) the Union will receive another portion, of R$ 8.8 billion, of the state-owned company’s profit.

The figure is part of a total, already announced this year, of R$ 32 billion in dividends that will be paid until July to the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL), the company’s largest shareholder. Between 2019 and 2021, the Union had already pocketed another R$34.4 billion in dividends (in updated values), according to a survey by Einar Rivero, from TC/Economática.

The president of Petrobras, José Mauro Coelho, announced his resignation this morning, after strong pressure from President Bolsonaro and the Speaker of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PL).

When taxes and royalties are added to the profit destined for the Union, Petrobras injected R$ 447 billion into the federal coffers from 2019, the beginning of the Bolsonaro government, to March this year, according to data from the company’s tax reports, revealed by the newspaper “O State of S. Paulo” in May.

Considering states and municipalities, the amount reaches R$ 675 billion. The amount paid to the Union alone corresponds to approximately five times the Auxílio Brasil budget planned for this year, around R$ 89 billion.

Since the beginning of the year, to counter the criticism of Bolsonaro and leaders of the National Congress, Petrobras has been emphasizing that its gains return to society.

The company reported that, in 2021, it collected BRL 203 billion in own and withheld taxes, the highest annual amount ever paid by the company, an increase of 70% compared to 2020. In the first quarter of 2022, it paid another BRL 70 billion to public coffers between profit, taxes and government participation, “practically double the amount collected in the same period of 2021”.

Problem or solution?

Faced with the numbers, economists with a more liberal or orthodox background tend to defend the use of extra revenue for the government, with the state-owned company’s profit as a source to finance policies that mitigate the effects of fuel prices, especially on the poorest.

In this logic, holding prices, leaving the account in the state’s cashier, is inefficient, as it affects all companies in the sector and all consumers benefit, from the poorest to the richest. Therefore, it would be more efficient to direct resources, via the Treasury, only to the poorest, without affecting the market.

For consultant Raul Velloso, criticism from politicians, including Bolsonaro, has to do with the effects of high prices on voter behavior.

“The best thing would be to do something via public funds. The money (from the profit) comes to the owner, the main shareholder is the government, and he uses this, in some way, to solve this problem for voters”, said Velloso, citing a additional payment of Auxílio Brasil for the poorest as a measure to mitigate, for example, the inflation of the gas cylinder.

“Poor mothers who can’t cook, we can’t have any doubt that they need to be helped. The profit comes from that”, he added.

There is practically a worldwide consensus on the need to use policies to mitigate the effects of fuel inflation, a shock boosted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which occurred when the imbalances caused by the pandemic had not yet dissipated. The United Kingdom has adopted an extraordinary tax on oil company profits. US President Joe Biden is also putting pressure on oil companies.

Petrobras president resigns

The president of Petrobras, José Mauro Coelho, announced his resignation this morning, after strong pressure from President Bolsonaro and the Speaker of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PL).

He was the third executive to command Petrobras during the Bolsonaro administration. According to the company, Coelho also leaves the position of member of the State’s Board of Directors.

After the announcement of new increases in the price of gasoline and diesel for distributors, last Friday (17), Bolsonaro defended the creation of a CPI (Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry) to investigate Petrobras, its directors and advisers.

“Our idea is to propose a CPI to investigate Petrobras, its directors and the members of the Board. We want to know if there is something wrong with their conduct, because it is not possible to grant an adjustment with the fuel up there and with the exorbitant profits” , he said, in an interview with Rádio 96 FM in Natal, last Friday (17).

*With information from Estadão Conteúdo agency

About Abhishek Pratap

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