This Wednesday (1), the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) ordered the Ministry of Economy to suspend the liquidation of Ceitec (National Center for Advanced Electronic Technology SA), a state-owned semiconductor company. The Ministry of Economy must provide more information on what led the government to include Ceitec in the PND (National Privatization Program).
By a score of 3 votes to 4, TCU suspends settlement
In a tight 3 to 4 vote, the TCU decided to prevent the Ministry of Economy from proceeding with the Ceitec privatization process. The decision of the ministers followed the vote of the reviewer of the process, Minister Vital do Rêgo. He considers that the justifications presented by the government for privatizing the company are “fragile”.
Minister Vital do Rêgo said yesterday, in a plenary session at TCU:
“The reasons that led to the liquidation of Ceitec are unsupported, lacking further justification, as they were based on analyzes that did not consider relevant losses and expenditures of public resources as immediate consequences of this line of action.”
Also according to TCU ministers, the government presented “simplified” economic data to justify the financial advantages of liquidating Ceitec.
For the court, the government could not justify the sale to Ceitec: ministers consider that the process does not consider the damage that may be generated by the liquidation. There is no study that compares the liquidation with other options such as, for example, carrying out the maintenance of the state-owned company.
Within 60 days, the Ministry of Economy must provide more information that demonstrates the good of public interest to privatize the semiconductor company. The folder should consider the company’s strategic position in the production of chips in Brazil, as well as its “intellectual capital”.
Since 2019, the federal government plans to privatize Ceitec. In March 2020, the Ministry of Economy, with the approval of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), included the state-owned semiconductor company in the PND (National Privatization Program). About 9 months later, the ministry published a decree in the Official Gazette of the Union (DOU) to formalize the liquidation of Ceitec.
Government spent R$ 140 million to clean Ceitec’s room
The Ministry of Economy must also submit to TCU data obtained for the regularization of the land on which Ceitec is located.
In addition, the court requires the government to provide information about the resources used to “decontamination” and “decommission” the company’s cleanroom — the environment for testing products that can be contaminated. The government spent R$140 million on this operation.
Justice Walton Alencar Rodrigues, rapporteur of the case at TCU, voted in favor of the liquidation, but was defeated by colleagues at the Court. The magistrate argued that Ceitec is a company that has never banked its own accounts, which makes it dependent on the Union.
“Ceitec has always lived and continues to live off federal budget subsidies. Company entirely dependent on the federal government, being incapable of running with its own companies”, pointed out Rodrigues.
In July, the Regional Labor Court of the 4th Region (TRT-4) ordered Ceitec to return the positions to the dismissed employees. The court gave 72 hours for the state company to consult 34 former employees, to offer their old job vacancies. They were fired in January without renegotiating contracts.
With an eye on those fired from Ceitec, the English semiconductor company EnSilica opened a branch in Rio Grande do Sul, the region in which the state-owned company is located. A group of former employees set up projects to look for other interested companies in the semiconductor sector, which led the company to open its doors in RS.
According to the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU), Ceitec’s revenue in the last 4 years — an increase from R$ 4 million to R$ 7.8 million — is unable to “pay the electricity bill” of the state-owned company.
With information: G1 and TCU