Under pressure to endorse the measures articulated by Congress and the Palácio do Planalto to create a truck driver aid and expand the gas voucher to low-income families this election year, the Ministry of Economy is evaluating the cost of the initiatives and is working to limit the impact. public coffers, according to five sources familiar with the matter.
Preliminary figures presented by the sources point to spending between 4 billion reais and 6 billion reais this year with the two benefits. The ministry’s directive, according to two people accompanying the negotiations, is that the sum of these measures with the package already announced to relieve fuel costs does not exceed 50 billion reais.
The plan provides for the benefits to be included in the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) that is being processed in the Legislature to reduce fuel taxation. An exception to the spending ceiling will be created so that these expenses are not accounted for in the tax rule, an idea that was previously opposed by the economic team.
The sources stated that the final format of the measures is not yet defined. One of them added that the Ministry of Economy will not take care of the formulation of benefits and that the elaboration is being done by Congress.
One of the hypotheses mentioned for the truck driver’s voucher, for example, foresees an expense of 3 billion reais if the value of the benefit stays at 600 reais per month. Another source stated that a monthly benefit of 1,000 reais would fit in the Budget if it were paid to 600,000 truck drivers, considering that this is not a hypothesis put forward by the economic team.
One of the authorities said that the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, had set limits on the release of these funds. According to this person, the ceilings would be 4 billion reais for truck drivers and 2 billion reais for gas assistance. In this case, the total cost of the package, added to the tax cuts, would be approximately 52 billion reais.
Another member of the portfolio pointed out that the release of these benefits is a way to ward off ideas considered more harmful by the economic team and that were under discussion in the government and in Congress. Among them, the creation of a fuel price stabilization fund, an increase in taxation on oil companies and a relaxation of the law on state-owned companies.
The idea of implementing the benefits four months before the elections gained strength after Petrobras announced a readjustment in the prices of gasoline and diesel. The initiative generated criticism from politicians, including President Jair Bolsonaro. Target of pressure, José Mauro Coelho resigned from the presidency of the state-owned company.
For one of the sources, including the measures in a constitutional amendment was the way found to overcome limitations imposed by the legislation, which bars the creation of benefits in the final six months of the mandate. She pondered that the issue is still undergoing analysis by the Attorney General’s Office.
This Wednesday, the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco, said that new inclusions in the PEC should be preceded by impact studies and analysis of the fences due to the elections.