The privatization of Correios is no longer expected to get off the ground this year, although President Jair Bolsonaro said this week that the sale of the state-owned postal service would be “on the straight”. The president’s speech was understood much more as an attempt to repeat the liberal discourse in defense of the “smallest possible state”, which was already used in the 2018 elections.
In practice, the Bolsonaro government is on its way to ending its mandate by concluding the sale of only two large state-owned companies, Eletrobras (focused on energy generation and transmission) and Companhia Docas do Espírito Santo (Codesa).
In the Senate, the bill that endorses the privatization of the Correios is shelved, and Bolsonaro’s allies heard by the report do not see the possibility of movement this year.
In the economic team, Bolsonaro’s statement was understood as a reference to the privatization studies carried out by the government, with completed phases, such as the public consultation. Without the approval of Congress, however, the Ministry of Economy cannot proceed with other steps and complete the sale.
The president of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), Gustavo Montezano, responsible for formulating privatization, has already ruled out privatization for this year. In a recent interview with Estadão/BroadcastGrupo Estado’s real-time news system, he admitted that there is no more time for the event to take place in 2022.
The privatization plan for Correios, a state-owned company created in 1969 that has more than 90,000 employees, did not begin under the Bolsonaro government. The idea was announced during the government of Michel Temer (MDB), in 2017.
Elected with the help of the liberal speech headed by Paulo Guedes, Bolsonaro then included Correios and 16 other state-owned companies in the sales queue. It was only in 2021, however, that the government delivered to Congress the proposals to enable the privatization of Correios and Eletrobras. While the sale of the electric energy company progressed – at the cost of some “tortoises” included in the project that made the electricity bill even more expensive -, the project that would make the sale of the state-owned mail company possible stopped in the Senate.
With the Chamber under the command of his ally, Arthur Lira (Progressistas-AL), Bolsonaro won a victory last August, when deputies easily approved the proposal that would allow the privatization of the Post Office. Once the proposal reached the Senate, however, the Planalto only faced difficulties. The leader of the MDB, Eduardo Braga (AM), led a strong reluctance to the proposal, which until then had been reported by a coreligionist, former Emedebista Márcio Bittar, now affiliated with União Brasil.
In addition to political resistance and the agenda taken by the Covid CPI, the government spent a long period without leadership in the Senate, which further weakened the possibility of advancing the project, which also little mobilized Bolsonaro personally.
As the election year progressed, Guedes’ team began to admit that the sale would not come out this year. The team continued carrying out studies that could be carried out without the approval of Congress, at BNDES. From them, it can be concluded, for example, that the best option for privatization of the Post Office would be the sale of 100% of the shares, coupled with a concession of postal services.