The intention to tax Petrobras’ extraordinary profits, in the wake of the rise in oil and fuel prices, must be accompanied by an authorization for the expenses financed with these revenues to be outside the spending ceiling – a fiscal rule that limits the advance of expenses to inflation.
The measure should be one of the points of discussion at the meeting of leaders called for next Monday (20) by the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL).
The combination of initiatives is also on the radar of members of the Senate, where a PEC (Proposal for Amendment to the Constitution) is already being processed that seeks to unlock a transfer of R$ 29.6 billion outside the spending ceiling to subsidize the reduction of state taxes on diesel, gas and ethanol.
According to members of Congress and political leaders, the PEC in progress can be modified to include more of this authorization. One parliamentarian privately states that “there is a lot of pressure in this direction.”
The exact policy that would be supported with these resources, however, is still under discussion. Behind the scenes, aid for truck drivers, taxi drivers and app drivers is mentioned, in addition to a possible increase in Auxílio Gás, created last year to subsidize the purchase of cylinders by low-income families.
In the economic area, there are fears about the size of the bill that can be generated from the new articulations.
Leaders in the Chamber still want to debate the idea of taxing oil exports. The funds collected from the tax, which is not collected today, would be used as subsidies to reduce the price of diesel, according to one of the authors of the proposal, Deputy Danilo Forte (União Brasil-CE).
The topics should also be brought to the attention of Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), who defended on Friday (17) the use of Petrobras’ profits to supply a fuel price stabilization bill.
The sharp rise in the price of diesel and gasoline is seen as a major obstacle to the re-election of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and also worries his allies in Congress, many of whom will seek to renew their mandate in this year’s election. This explains the determination of parliamentarians to show some reaction.
The moments that followed the official announcement of the new adjustment in fuel prices by Petrobras were intense movement in government offices in Brasília, despite the optional point due to the Corpus Christi holiday on Thursday (16).
Technicians were summoned at the last minute to work on possible measures to contain the impact of the readjustments.
One of the fronts involves precisely the taxation of Petrobras’ extraordinary profits, publicly defended this Friday by Lira. The mayor even talked about doubling the CSLL (Social Contribution on Net Income). Petrobras today pays the general tax rate, which is 9%.
The Federal Revenue is already ready to analyze the feasibility of the measure and estimate how much would be collected with a possible increase in the rate.
According to sources heard by the Sheet, the measure considered the most viable is the increase of the CSLL for companies in the oil and gas sector in general, since it would not be possible to specify the extra charge on only one company. A similar model is adopted for banks and financial institutions, a sector that pays a higher CSLL rate.
It would also be “unprecedented” to predict higher taxation based on a certain trigger in oil prices or the level of profit for oil companies. Therefore, technicians consider a simple increase in the CSLL rate for the sector to be more likely.
In the first quarter of this year, Petrobras recorded a profit of BRL 44.5 billion, after a record result of BRL 106.6 billion in 2021. Without extra taxation, as has been adopted in other countries, the company expanded its distribution of dividends to its shareholders — including the Union.
Bolsonaro has already said that the company’s profit is “a rape” and that further readjustments could break the country.
One of the considerations regarding the taxation of extraordinary income is that new revenues would begin to fall into the federal coffers only at the end of the year, since raising a tax such as the CSLL requires a 90-day advance notice (the so-called “noventena”), as showed the Panel.
In this sense, the tax on exports would have the advantage of being able to be raised immediately, as it is considered a regulatory tax.
On another front, technicians from the economic team are also working to speed up the sanctioning of the complementary bill that sets a ceiling for ICMS —state tax— on fuel, energy, transport and telecommunications.
The text also includes cutting federal taxes on gasoline and ethanol by the end of this year. The rates on diesel and gas have been zeroed since March.
Voting on the project was concluded on Wednesday (15), and technicians are working to have the law published by next Monday. Although the tax cut will take some time to reach the pumps, the assessment is that the measure could neutralize part of the increases announced by Petrobras.
The estimate presented by Senator Fernando Bezerra (MDB-PE), rapporteur of the bill on ICMS and PEC on Fuels, was that the two measures together would result in a reduction of R$ 0.76 per liter of diesel and R$ $1.65 on gasoline.
Bolsonaro, in turn, even cited calculations of even greater relief: R$ 1 in diesel and R$ 2 in gasoline. This Friday, Petrobras announced an increase of R$ 0.20 in the liter of gasoline and of R$ 0.70 in diesel.
COLLABORATED THIAGO RESENDE