The bill that authorizes the sale of Correios to a private company was harshly criticized at a hearing of the Economic Affairs Committee (CAE) of the Senate this Wednesday (6). Members of trade union associations and state-owned professionals claim that the measure is “unconstitutional”, while opposition deputies say that the sale of the company is “unnecessary”.
After being approved by the Chamber of Deputies at the beginning of July, the PL for the privatization of the Postal and Telegraph Company (ECT) is still being processed in the Senate. The government expects the project, which provides for the sale of 100% of the state-owned assets in an auction format with a single buyer, to be approved in October. The Ministry of Economy expects the trading session to take place in March 2022.
Rapporteur defends privatization at the cost of subsidies
Senator Márcio Bittar (MDB-AC), rapporteur of the Bill in the Senate, made a request for the proposal to be debated in the CAE, in order to hear different points of view about the Bill. The congressman affirms that, if privatization is confirmed, the monopoly held by Correios will be maintained. He fears that the state-owned company will lose value if it is not sold, considering that the company has never been profitable.
“The fact that the State grants a service to the private sector does not take away the public power’s right to undo the contract,” Bittar said at the CAE session on Wednesday (6).
The emedebist also argued that the fact that the Post Office is public does not give the company a cheaper service. According to the senator, it is the poorest who pay the heaviest bill of cross-subsidies — the Post Office does not pay taxes to the Union and does not use resources from the National Treasury. As for efficiency in management, Bittar mentions that there are management problems at ECT, citing Postalis, the state-owned private pension fund.
“I am aligned with ideas, I am not unconditionally aligned with anyone. My office is open to listen”, declared the rapporteur of the privatization bill.
Opposition calls project “unnecessary”
Senator Jean Paul Prates (PT-RN) comments that Marcos Bittar, as rapporteur, is not obliged to keep the same text approved by the Chamber of Deputies, and can propose amendments.
For the PT congressman, it makes no sense to privatize Correios because the company is “strategic and profitable”. He suggested, however, that the state-owned company could raise investment by providing other services.
“It is one of the largest logistics companies in the world, with almost 100,000 employees. There are 11 airlines and 1,500 land lines in operation,” said Paul Prates at CAE. His colleague on the bench, Senator Paulo Paim (PT-RS) called the sale unnecessary. The congressman recalled that in the US, the postal service is still public.
Unionists say that selling Correios is “unconstitutional”
In turn, members of associations of postal workers and unions criticized the privatization project during the Senate session.
Marcos César Silva Alves, vice president of Adcap (Association of Postal Professionals), highlighted that the proposal, supported by the government, is unconstitutional, as it violates the Union’s competence to maintain control over the postal service, as provided for in the 1988 Constitution.
For the union leader, the sale of the Correios could only be made with a proposal for a constitutional amendment. Alves also argues that the differentiation in postal delivery services, provided for in the project, is a way to mask the tariff increase that will come ahead. He also commented:
“This project is unconstitutional and harmful to Brazilians, in addition to harming small and medium-sized companies. We hope that the Senate does not approve this bill, burying this bad idea once and for all”
In response to the bill’s rapporteur, the secretary general of the National Federation of Workers in Postal and Telegraph and Similar Companies, José Rivaldo da Silva, said that between 2002 and 2020, Correios had a profit of R$ 12 billion. Of this amount, R$7 billion were transferred directly to the federal government.
The secretary general added that, until 2030, the projection remains for profit; Correios should take advantage of the growth of Brazilian e-commerce, forecast to grow 32% this year compared to 2020, according to a survey by XP.
Despite having, yes, closed 2020 in the blue, the revenue of Correios showed a drop. The operating profit of the state-owned company was parked at 1%. The company’s workforce has also been decreasing: José Rivaldo says that ECT employed 128,000 people in 2012, a number that dropped to less than 100,000.
In this sense, to increase profits, the secretary general defended partnerships between Correios and other companies to expand the range of services offered. Finally, he defended that the Senate discard privatization as the only way out of the problems faced by the state-owned company:
Correios brings citizenship and integration to Brazil. The vast majority of small towns will suffer from privatization. This company needs to be kept public
With information: Senate Agency