After raging, opening a political war and launching public threats to the management of Petrobras, the government decided to do something similar to governing. Jair Bolsonaro’s team and allies of the president began to discuss expanding the Auxílio Gás that is paid to the poorest Brazilians and the creation of a fuel voucher for truck drivers.
Neither proposal falls into what Bolsonaro called Petrobras’ “stupid profit” or the company’s “uncontrollable greed”, in the words of the mayor. They also do not affect the definition of fuel prices, which continue to be under strong pressure in the international market.
The government may even offer immediate relief to more sensitive groups and divert the focus of tensions with the company, but everything indicates that political pressure on Petrobras will continue. Bolsonaro has already given repeated signs that he intends to continue his campaign of intimidation against the company to avoid further readjustments until the election.
The president has little political fat to burn over the next few months. Any price hikes from now on could be enough to erode the value of government aid and vouchers, as well as further annoy the millions of drivers who are out of these programs.
The governing team must continue working to prevent this from happening. The preventive threats launched against the new Petrobras command, which has not yet taken office, are part of this equation.
The messages came in sequence. Bolsonaro’s allies continued collecting signatures for a CPI and began crafting a change in the law to make it easier for directors to be fired from now on. The Chief of Staff demanded “sensitivity” from the oil company and the Minister of Mines and Energy spoke of “sacrifice”.
No one has presented a concrete proposal to change the company’s pricing policy. The idea is that a new policy is already in effect, in practice, until October.
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