Ad­viser favours sell­ing Eletro­bras gen­er­a­tion as­sets

Gulf Times - - LATIN AMERICA -

The top eco­nomic ad­viser to Brazil­ian far-right pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner Jair Bol­sonaro said he favours sell­ing off some of the power gen­er­a­tion as­sets of util­ity com­pany Cen­trais Elet­ri­cas Brasileiras S.A., rais­ing new con­tra­dic­tions in the can­di­date’s pol­icy team.

Shares of the com­pany, known as Eletro­bras, soared fol­low­ing the clear lead Bol­sonaro took in last Sun­day’s first-round vote, but then tum­bled 13% on Wed­nes­day when Bol­sonaro said he would pri­va­tise trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion units but not the gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric­ity.

Bol­sonaro had pre­vi­ously promised to pri­va­tise some state-con­trolled com­pa­nies.

But in com­ments to re­porters late on Fri­day, his eco­nomic guru Paulo Guedes gave a con­tra­dic­tory view, say­ing he favoured sell­ing Eletro­bras gen­er­a­tion as­sets rather than trans­mis­sion as­sets.

“Trans­mis­sion, that’s very dif­fi­cult, but in the case of gen­er­a­tion there are cases where I would sell and oth­ers where I wouldn’t,” Guedes told re­porters in Rio de Janeiro. “There are many cases of strong pri­vate gen­er­a­tion.”

Bol­sonaro has named Guedes, a Univer­sity of Chicago-trained econ­o­mist, to be his econ­omy and fi­nance su­per min­is­ter, a clear sig­nal that he plans to be a mar­ket-friendly pres­i­dent if he de­feats left­ist Work­ers Party can­di­date Fer­nando Had­dad in the Oc­to­ber 28 run-off vote.

Yet Bol­sonaro has dis­avowed Guedes pub­licly on oc­ca­sion, re­veal­ing wide di­vi­sions on pol­icy among his team of ad­vis­ers, which is di­vided be­tween na­tion­al­ists and free-mar­ket ad­vo­cates.

Di­vi­sions have emerged on tax­a­tion and wage poli­cies and in­cludes the po­ten­tial pri­vati­sa­tion of Brazil’s largest com­pany, state-run oil cor­po­ra­tion Petro­bras.

Com­ment­ing on his re­luc­tance to sell core Eletro­bras units, Bol­sonaro cited a con­cern about Chi­nese dom­i­na­tion, which has bought elec­tri­cal as­sets in Brazil in the past two years.

“China isn’t buy­ing in Brazil, China is buy­ing Brazil,” Bol­sonaro said. “Are you will­ing to leave Brazil in the hands of the Chi­nese?”

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