BRASILIA (Reuters) – On yet another front aimed at reducing high consumer fuel costs, the federal government is discussing measures to ensure that a tax cut effectively impacts the pump, two sources with knowledge told Reuters. of the negotiations.
One of the initiatives under study is a policy to monitor prices at fuel distributors, the sources said. The distribution sector is highly concentrated in Brazil, dominated by companies such as Vibra, Raízen and Ipiranga, owned by Ultrapar.
This would be adopted after the implementation of government measures, with projects already being processed in Congress, to limit the ICMS rate for fuels to 17%. The proposals are due to be voted on next week.
The government’s intention, according to one of the sources, is not to freeze the prices of distributors, but a closer monitoring with the justification that the country is in an exceptional situation, given the escalation of international oil prices and high inflation. .
According to this palatial source, the government knows the value of the fuel that leaves the refinery, but they do not know how much remains in the distributor and, for that reason, the idea of carrying out this offensive.
Another source, from the economic area, confirmed that the standardization of prices for distributors is being evaluated by the government, and that the matter is being treated with reservation by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP). and the Ministry of Justice.
According to the authority, this measure under evaluation would be infralegal and, therefore, would not depend on congressional approval.
Sought after, the Economy Ministry said it would not comment. The Ministry of Mines and Energy did not immediately respond.
Earlier, President Jair Bolsonaro said in an interview that new measures — in addition to those proposed in Congress — would be adopted.
“When the PEC is enacted and the bill that is in the Senate is sanctioned, the reduction (in the price of fuel) is already for the next day… we will demand that the profit margin of tankers and owners of gas stations is not increased with our tax reduction”, he said.
Bolsonaro declined to detail what measures could be taken to force a reduction in pump prices, but cited measures that could be taken by the Ministry of Justice and the National Consumer Secretariat (Senacon), linked to the ministry.
Economist Gustavo Guimarães, who led the Ministry of Economy’s Evaluation, Planning, Energy and Lottery Department until the beginning of this year, says that an infralegal measure, such as a decree or regulation by the ANP, would have limited effect.
“The oil law sets free prices,” he said. “Throughout the entire fuel chain, free prices are legally guaranteed. Any control or manipulation would be illegal, or they would have to mess with the oil law.”
Guimarães stated that it is generally easier to identify the added value of fuels in the early stages of the chain.
In the refineries, according to him, control is simpler because there are few in the country and the market is very concentrated in Petrobras.
He explained that at the end of the chain, at gas stations, the system is very pulverized and prices have already been affected by distributors’ margins, logistics and taxation costs, in addition to the blend of biofuel, which makes it difficult to evaluate and control the practiced values.
“Standardizing in the distributors can help, but I don’t know the cost-benefit of such a measure, in addition to the transaction and control costs”, he said.