February 7, 2020
1. Bolsonaro dares governors to lower taxes
President Jair Bolsonaro dared state governors to eliminate the Tax on Circulation of Goods and Services (ICMS) on the price of fuel. Bolsonaro promised to eliminate federal taxation on fuel if state governments follow suit. The president claims that efforts to reduce the price of fuel in the country are not yielding results due to a lack of effort by governors, who are maintaining state taxes unaltered. Governors, on the other hand, accuse the president of acting as a fiscal populist, as the financial situation of most Brazilian states is dire. They argue that the revenue from ICMS on fuel is key component of the state administrations’ coffers. A proposal by Jair Bolsonaro to end taxes on fuel is unfeasible. It could lead to serious political complications with governors. Read this week’s political analysis on Brasilia Report.
2. Congress resumes session and discusses coronavirus
On Monday, representatives and senators resumed their political activities. The first discussion of the year involved a quarantine law intended to support the rescue of Brazilians in Wuhan by the Brazilian government. The bill was sent to Congress by the administration and was easily approved. However, the collaboration between parties will not last throughout the legislative year. The President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, stated that the schedule for reforms such as the tax and the administrative reforms will be maintained, even though representatives from the opposition promised to resist. As a result of municipal elections – slated for October – the congressional year will be very short.
3. Government to rescue Brazilians in China
After Brazilian citizens released a video asking the federal government to help them leave Wuhan, President Jair Bolsonaro said that the Brazilian Air Force will rescue them. Over the past week, physicians specialized in emergencies, technicians from the Ministry of Healthy, and military personnel have been deployed to China for an operation that will last roughly 94 hours. On Saturday, approximately 30 Brazilians will arrive at the Anápolis Air Base, in Goiás, and stay quarantined for 18 days, according to a law approved by the National Congress this week. The decision to rescue the citizens – in line with policies by the U.S. and German governments – was negotiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Chinese government.
4. Brazil resumes process to implement 5G
On Thursday, the National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL) – the institution responsible for regulating the telecommunications sector – approved the administrative process to initiate a bid for the fifth generation of mobile networks, 5G. The federal government is promising the bid will take place in 2020. With the proposal approved, the text will be available for public viewing for 45 days and public and private institutions will be able to give opinions on the proposal. There will also be a public hearing in Brasília (Federal District). After the 45 days, ANATEL will hold a vote on the final text before it is published.
UOL: Anatel começa a tirar 5G do papel no Brasil; leilão deve ser maior do mundo
5. Superior Labor Court decides Uber drivers are not employees
The Superior Labor Court has denied that there is an employment relationship between drivers and Uber. Even though many first instance courts have ruled on similar cases, this is the first time a superior court has made a decision on the case in Brazil. The case was analyzed by the 5th Judiciary Council of the Superior Court, which reached the decision unanimously. The driver who sued Uber used the app for a year and asked the Justice System to recognize his employment relationship with the company. Uber, however, claims the driver was free to determine his timetable, as a partner. Even though the court’s decision does not mean other judges will reach the same conclusion, it is an important precedent for Brazilian jurisprudence.
Click here for the Brasilia Report, a weekly analysis prepared by JeffreyGroup Senior Advisor in Brasilia, Gustavo Krieger.