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14 September 2016
Brazil‘s coup government has announced a huge privatization agenda with plans to auction off 32 major infrastructure projects.
By James Tweedie:
Temer sets out massive privatisation programme
Thursday 15th September 2016
Michel Temer, who came to power in last month’s legislative coup against elected Workers Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff, described the decimation of public ownership as an “extraordinary opening,” of Brazil’s infrastructure.
The sell-off includes two seaports, four airports, five hydroelectric projects, six electricity distribution plants, three sanitation companies, five motorway and railway projects, three oil and gas operations and four mining concessions.
The number of projects to be snatched out of public hands as part of Temer’s grand “Project Grow” was initially announced as 25, but later increased to 32.
Of those at least 21 — including Porto Alegre, Salvador, Florianopolis and Fortaleza airports — will be privatised next year and the rest in 2018.
But the plan did not inspire Brazil’s biggest stock market, with the Bovespa index closing down 3 per cent.
Meanwhile the Chamber of Deputies — the lower house of Congress — was set to vote on legislation to allow the privitisation of one of Brazil’s most valuable resources — its offshore “pre-salt” layer oil reserves.
Former PT President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government passed legislation which gave state-run oil firm Petrobras exclusive rights to the reserves which are valued at £2.3 trillion — twice Brazil’s GDP.
This was designed to keep the fields under state management and restrict private investment.
However Mr Temer’s new Foreign Minister Jose Serra pushed the privatisation law through the Senate in February, sparking fears that the reserves could be bought by foreign investers if it is approved by Congress.
Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks revealed in 2010 that Mr Serra had promised transnational oil giants Exxon and Chevron the previous year he would reverse the PT legislation in return for funding his failed presidential campaign.