Governors and attorneys general of 11 states filed with the STF (Supreme Federal Court) today a direct action of unconstitutionality with a request for a precautionary measure against a complementary law, enacted in March, which changes the collection of ICMS (Tax on the Circulation of Goods and Services ) on fuels.
Until then, the setting of this tax was decided by each state governor. The complementary law indicates that the incidence of ICMS in the state must occur only once and at uniform rates. State representatives, through the action, complain that they are being unduly impacted.
“It is not difficult to understand that this measure is populist, electoral and ineffective”, says the document signed by the governors and prosecutors of Pernambuco, Maranhão, Paraíba, Piauí, Bahia, Mato Grosso do Sul, Sergipe, Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas, Ceará and Rio Grande do Sul.
The fuel price crisis is a pressure point in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), both because of the popular rejection it has caused and because of the internal tensions that have intensified. The moment also occurs in an election year, in which Bolsonaro will seek re-election.
For purely electoral purposes, it cannot be accepted that the states have their accounts seriously compromised, in a desolate scenario for the cost of health and education, which will be the most affected when the collection plummets overnight, for this reason. inconsequential measure
Action by states against complementary ICMS law
While Bolsonaro blames governors, state leaders blame the federal government for rising prices. They recall that, at the end of 2021, they froze the ICMS, and fuel prices continued to rise even so.
Last week, Congress passed a government-backed bill that caps the ICMS on fuels to 17%. The measure still needs to be signed by the president. Experts said at the time that there was no guarantee that the cap would help reduce fuel prices because it could be offset by other factors. In fact, a few days later, Petrobras announced a 14.3% increase in diesel and a 5.2% increase in gasoline at refineries.
The federal government also tried to solve the fuel crisis by announcing a PEC (Proposed Amendment to the Constitution) to zero ICMS and reimburse the states directly with what they would earn on top of the tax. Gasoline, ethanol, diesel and cooking gas would be affected, but the proposal did not advance.
Attacks on Petrobras
The Bolsonaro government also blames Petrobras for the fuel increases.
The constant attacks by Bolsonaro and the mayor, Arthur Lira (PP-AL) on the state-owned company led to the resignation of its president, José Mauro Coelho, on Monday (20). He was appointed by Bolsonaro himself and is the third executive to command Petrobras in the current management.
Petrobras adopts a policy that passes on to fuel prices the increases in oil on the international market and in the dollar. Oil is on the rise abroad, mainly because of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
President Bolsonaro has the power to change the presidency and the majority of Petrobras’ board of directors, and it is this board that sets the pricing policy.