A day after Petrobras lost R$23 billion in market value out of fear of government political interference, President Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday, during the G20 summit in Rome, that the state-owned company was “a problem”. This statement was made in an informal conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who referred to Brazil’s large oil resources.
“Petrobras is a problem, but we are breaking the monopolies with a massive reaction. Not so long ago, it was a partisan company. We changed that,” Bolsonaro told Erdogan through an interpreter. The recording of the dialogue was published by journalist Jamil Chad, from the University of Awale.
Amid the difficulty of containing rising fuel prices affecting the government’s popularity, President and Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has launched a series of attacks on Petrobras in recent weeks. In a live broadcast on social networks last Thursday, the CEO stated that the state-owned company should make less profit, which caused the company’s shares to fall on the stock exchange.
Bolsonaro also told Erdogan that the Brazilian economy is recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. “The economy is coming back very strong. The media, as usual, is attacking. We are doing well. It is not easy to be the head of a country anywhere in the world,” he said, without referring to the spiraling inflation. The price hike led the central bank to raise the country’s key interest rate, Selek, by 1.5 percentage points, to 7.75%, the largest increase since 2002.
The Brazilian president also told his Turkish colleague that he has very high popular support, when in fact sectors within the government do not take re-election for granted. No wonder Planalto Palace decided to launch an Auxílio Brasil boosted with just R$400 until the end of the election year, with the aim of boosting Bolsonaro’s popularity.
“And when will the elections be?” Erdogan asked the Brazilian president during the conversation. Bolsonaro replied: “11 months from now.” “It means that you still have a lot to do, something to do,” Al-Turki added. We have a good team of ministers. I did not accept nominations from anyone. You have honored the armed forces. The president tried to insist on a third of the ministers from the military.
Bolsonaro is attending the G20 meeting in Rome with Ministers Guedes and Joao Roma (citizenship), Walter Braga Neto (defense) and Carlos Franca (foreign affairs) and will participate, between today and tomorrow, in addition to bilateral meetings, in panel discussions on the economy, environment and public health. The three topics are sensitive for the government, amid criticism over environmental policy and the situation during the pandemic.
And on Monday, November 1, after the summit, the president will head to the Italian city of Anguillara Veneta, where his ancestors lived, to receive the title of local citizen. The draft honoring the president was approved under criticism. On Friday, the 29th, environmental activists painted the “Ott, Bolsonaro” painting at City Hall.
In keeping with his personal agenda at the Anguillara Veneta, Bolsonaro will not attend COP-26, an event on climate change that will be attended by key world leaders. The Government is represented by Environment Minister Joaquim Pereira Leite.
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