By Maria Carolina Marcello
BRASÍLIA (Reuters) – The Chamber of Deputies approved this Wednesday the bill that fixes the ICMS on fuels, a proposal defended by President Jair Bolsonaro, but that does not have the sympathy of a good part of the governors.
The bill was originally sent to Congress by the government of Bolsonaro, which credits the rise in fuel prices to the governors and to the ICMS charged by Federation entities. The proposal was also supported by the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira (PP-AL).
The state governments claim, however, that they will suffer a loss of 24 billion reais with the project that changes the ICMS calculation, and pointed out the pricing policy practiced by Petrobras as the real responsible for the high prices practiced in the country.
The main text was approved with 392 votes in favor and 71 against. At the end of the night, deputies rejected five highlights of the text proposed by the opposition that aimed to change the proposal and, with the conclusion of the analysis of the matter, it goes to the Senate.
According to the proposal’s rapporteur, Deputy Dr. Jaziel (PL-CE), the project intends to address one of the most decisive points in the composition of fuel prices: the tax burden.
“According to the most recent calculation carried out by the National Petroleum Agency (ANP), federal and state taxes account for about 40.7% of the price of gasoline. Therefore, regardless of discussions on the pricing policy practiced by Petrobras, there is no denying that the tax burden is decisive for the high cost of fuels”, argued the rapporteur in his opinion.
“For all these reasons, the most efficient mechanism for controlling fuel prices – even more than the implementation of localized state interventions – is the effective stabilization of a significant part of its cost, by demanding taxes for a fixed amount, thus reducing the influence of changes in the price of a barrel of oil on the amount charged to the final consumer”, added the rapporteur.
Also on Wednesday night, the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG), said that the proposal on the ICMS will be carefully analyzed by the House, while pointing out other points that influence the price of fuel in Brazil, such as exchange rate variation and Petrobras’ pricing policy.
“We need to stabilize fuel prices, make the price more palatable for the country’s development. There is no way to develop the country at this price. The Senate is very open to good proposals,” said Pacheco, according to Agência Senado.
The substitute presented by Jaziel provides that in operations with fuels subject to the tax substitution regime, the tax rates are specific, per adopted measurement unit, defined by the States and the Federal District for each product.
“Furthermore, as a way of bringing greater stability and greater transparency to prices, these specific rates will be set annually and will be in effect for twelve months from the date of publication,” he explained.
These specific rates defined by the States and the Federal District may not exceed, in reais per liter, the average value of final consumer prices in the market considered over the two immediately preceding fiscal years, multiplied by the ad valorem rate applicable to the fuel in 31 December of the immediately preceding fiscal year, says the deputy’s report.
“In this way, a solution is proposed to dampen the fluctuation in fuel prices, while respecting the autonomy of federated entities, which will maintain the competence to define their applicable rates, without the need for national standardization by product. ”
PT’s deputy leader, Enio Verri (PR), as well as other members of the opposition and even parties identified as liberals, pointed out that the source of the problem of rising fuel prices does not lie in the tax, but in the pricing policy practiced by the Petrobras.
“It has been at least 12 months that the ICMS percentage has not increased. The truth is that it is not the ICMS that makes the price of fuel more expensive, but the international parity price policy. In the current administration –by Bolsonaro and Paulo Guedes–, the price of oil here in Brazil rises in line with the variation of the dollar and with the variation in the price of fuel in the rest of the world”, said the PT deputy.
“With this, Petrobras earns a lot, its private shareholders earn a lot, and the population is unable, due to unemployment and their meager salaries, to pay for a gas cylinder, which exceeds 100 reais, or to fill up their car, whose fuel is plus 6 reais. In fact, the Bolsonaro government presents here in the Chamber a bill that tries to disguise its fullest responsibility. The increase in fuel is not the responsibility of the State, but of the policy adopted by Petrobras”.
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