The Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, stated that the BNDES owes money to the government, referring to the amount that must still be returned in advance to the Treasury referring to resources ceded to the bank to finance loans.
He also said that the bank “applied a trick” on the government by seeking the Federal Audit Court (TCU) arguing that it would lose money by making the return before the deadline defined by the contract.
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Guedes explained that asking for an early return is part of the effort to contain public expenditure, stressing that the resources have to return to the government because Brazil is at “war”, due to the challenges brought by the pandemic, and in need of that money.
The minister, who participated in a ceremony celebrating the bank’s 70th anniversary this Monday afternoon (20), said that BNDES returned around R$ 240 billion, but “still owes”.
“And they tricked us. The BNDES had the courage to go to the TCU, saying that if they returned the money now, we would be imposing a loss on the bank, which is dangerous, reckless. On the contrary, they are benefiting from the subsidy and should be returning it because Brazil is at war and needs this money”, he highlighted.
In a speech that combined bites and caresses, Guedes highlighted that the bank has been “doing a brilliant job” for having already returned part of the resources to the Union and being able to “do more with less”.
Criticism of investing in large companies
The minister once again criticized the old policy of providing credit to large companies — as at the time of the national champions policy — and stressed that the bank needs to finance micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
“The challenge for BNDES (in the current government) was extraordinary. It would have to be more relevant with less money. On the one hand, it was abandoning the characteristics of a hedge funding. What is the point of a development bank having shares in Petrobras, Marfrig, from JBS, of national champions in the portfolio?”, he asked.
He admitted to having been a critic of the bank back in the day, at a time when he called the BNDES Recreio dos Bandeirantes, “where people from São Paulo used to take money from Brazilian workers”.
And he defended that the true vocation of the development institution is to act in the areas in which the institution is at the forefront today, such as preservation of environmental assets, structuring projects, solving problems that directly impact people’s lives, such as expanding sanitation services, building ports, act in transport. He highlighted the BNDES’ performance in the privatization processes of Cedae and Eletrobras, for example.
Gustavo Montezano, president of the BNDES, reinforced the shift in the bank’s operation, increasingly focused on structuring infrastructure projects — the institution rose to the position of the largest in the sector globally —, from sanitation to education, and with a strong focus on financing micro to medium-sized companies, as expressly requested by Guedes during the pandemic.
At the ceremony, the renewal of the Emergency Credit Access Program (FGI-Peac) was signed, which had resources from the Guarantee Fund for Investments in micro, small and medium-sized companies.
“Peac was made through open innovation, in a collaborative way. And it’s the way we see the bank operating in the future. When we created the line, we surveyed banks abroad to see what they were offering in the face of the Covid crisis. -19. We saw that we had a gap as we did not have a guarantee fund for our national heroes, which are MSMEs. We will focus on this segment, without taking our foot off the accelerator of concessions and privatizations, which are our anchor to get out of the crisis “, said Montezano.
In its first round, PEAC granted more than R$92 billion in resources to MSMEs, increasing the available stock of credit resources for this segment by 15%, said the executive.
Brazil ‘de-synchronized’ from the world economy
Guedes took advantage of the ceremony to say again that he believes that the process of breaking up global supply chains can be an “opportunity for Brazil” in the midst of the global crisis in which there is great pressure on costs, rising inflation and the risk of recession. He also weighs Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The minister says that Brazil, in the opposite direction of the slowdown experienced in the rest of the world, has R$ 900 billion in contracted investments for the next two years. And that the country stands out as a power in two axes of opportunities: energy and food. For Guedes, Brazil is “out of sync” with the world economy.
“If it sinks there, it is not true that we are lost. We have vitamins to grow. We have a large pipeline of investments, our reforms. We only depend on us. Brazil is a continental economy. It can have its own growth dynamics. “
Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 1% in the first quarter, slightly below expectations. Despite this high, the economy remained at the level of eight years ago and should lose steam in the second half of the year.