November 2, 2016 | Fund Forum

Brazil's President Temer Announces Plan for Concessions and Privatizations

3 min

On September 13, 2016, President Michel Temer announced an infrastructure plan involving 34 projects. The plan, called "Growth" (Crescer), includes concessions as well as privatizations in the areas of transportation, energy, and sanitation. The first concessions will be for airports in the cities of Florianópolis, Fortaleza, Porto Alegre, and Salvador; two combustibles terminals in Santarém, Pará; and a wheat terminal in Rio de Janeiro. The bidding notices for these initial projects will be announced this year, with the final auctions scheduled for the beginning of 2017. Growth is a remodeling of a package of concessions initially put together by Temer's predecessor, the impeached President Dilma Rousseff. The government hopes to collect R$24 billion in 2017 alone in connection with Growth.

President Temer announced Growth during the first meeting of the Investment Partnership Program (Programa de Paceiros de Investimento, or PPI), created by one of President Temer's first acts in office. During the meeting at the Planalto Palace, the official seat of the Brazilian presidency, President Temer emphasized that "the public sector cannot do everything. Private initiatives must also be present as a catalyst of development and a producer of employment in the country." A video of President Temer's remarks in Portuguese at the meeting is available here via Globo.

According to Deutsche Welle, the text of the presentation stated that "only robust, solid projects with the capacity to generate returns for investors and society will go to market." It also promised that announcements for projects would be made only after a public discussion and approval is obtained from the Brazilian federal accountability office (Tribunal de Contas da União). The government also affirmed that concessions would be granted only for projects with proven environmental viability, meaning prior environmental licenses will be required or guidelines will be established for the licensing process.

The bidding rules will be published in both Portuguese and English in order to attract foreign investors. The announcement regarding Growth occurred shortly before President Temer visited New York to address the General Assembly of the United Nations in September, during which he met with private investors to promote Growth.

In addition to the legal safeguards that the government is promising in connection with Growth, investors will have at least 100 days (rather than 45 under previous rules) to analyze the proposals for each project once announced. The government is sweetening the deal for international investors in other ways, for example, by doing away with the requirement that Infraero, the national aviation agency (Empresa Brasileira de Infraestrutura Aeroportuária), be a minority partner in the airport concessions. The railways concessions under Growth will adopt the model used by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in which the winners of the auction will be allowed to provide transport services on the railways that they construct and operate. The concession model used by President Dilma, which did not successfully complete any railway auctions, required the concession winner to further negotiate the right to offer transportation services with Valec, the national railroad company (VALEC Engenharia, Construções e Ferrovias S.A.) operated by the Transport Administration.

Rede Brasil Atual reported that Maria Silvia Bastos, the president of BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social), the national development bank, stated that at least 20% of the capital contributed to the concession projects would come from private investors, with the state contributing up to 80%. Professor Giorgio Romano Schutte of the Universidade Federal do ABC explained that under President Dilma the rules were burdensome, the government was overly involved in the execution of the projects, and some rules were viewed as favorable to Brazilian (as opposed to foreign) investors. He also noted a perception that, with the exception of Chinese investors, President Dilma's government was resistant to the bids of international companies. Whether President Temer's efforts to change those negative perceptions will be successful may depend to a large extent on the interest generated by and the results of the auctions for Growth.