Fuel prices and privatizations have not decreased under the government of Lula

The Lula government announced a success in the drop in the price of fuels (diesel and gasoline) because of the “end of the IPP”. The IPP is the Import Parity Price, a price policy implemented in 2016 during the Michel Temer government. With the IPP, the consumer price of the fuel produced by Petrobras, the Brazilian State monopoly oil company, was supposedly more closely aligned with the international oil market and the exchange rate of the US dollar. However, nothing has changed.

In May, Petrobras announced the end of this policy after a meeting with Fernando Haddad (Minister of Finance) and Luiz Inácio da Silva. As denounced by A Nova Democracy (AND), the opportunists who praised this measure soon appeared, with PT politicians, PCdoB, speaking of “living again in a sovereign country”, that there were finally “competitive prices” or a “great victory” for Lula’s party.

However, as the newspaper defends, this “the announcement of the ‘end of the IPP’ was exuberant and celebrated by sections of opportunism, but however, it represented only deception and scam”. As the Petrobras Engineers Association (AEPET) concludes, there has hardly been variation in the price of fuels. For example, in a comparison between the average price between 2019 and April 2023 with the price on June 30, 2023 (after the supposed end of the measure and price drop) barely varied from 1.39 times the price of Brent oil (The price for the markets of Asia and Europe) to 1.36. Therefore the ‘descent’ has been imperceptible. “That means that in the government of Lula/Alckmin, the price of diesel is very close to the price in the Bolsonaro government”, the newspaper states. AEPET also states that Petrobras can lower prices, but this has not been the case.

In addition to this, during the month of June, the workers of the Lubnor refinery, in Ceará announced a strike against the privatization of the plant by the Lula government. The oil workers of whole Brazil will make demonstrations against the privatization that is being experienced. The plant was sold for 34 million dollars, almost half of the actual price. The sale will be made to Grepar Participarções, who “also operates in the distribution of derivatives produced by the refinery, having control of production and distribution, creating the conditions for the practice of abusive prices against consumers,” says the AND. In addition, there were demonstrations in the city of Fortaleza because 30% of the land of the plant is from the municipality and is also included in the sale without a notification.

It is striking how only one year ago the PT denounced the IPP and how its ultimate goal was to privatize refineries, and this is just what the Lula government has ended up with. Senator Rogério Carvalho denounced in March last year the Bolsonaro’s government, stating that “the IPP results in extraordinary profits for Petrobras, and the final objective would be to sell its refineries.”

Currently Petrobras privatization is not the only one they are carrying out. In May, Trensurb Metro workers made a strike against the privatization of the train service and the restrictions of rights, demanding the elimination of the Lula government privatization list. They also add that nothing has changed with Lula: “We are already in the fifth month of the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva government and the Trensurb managers are still the same ones appointed by the Jair Bolsonaro Government.” Also Minister Rui Costa, at the beginning of this year, affirmed that the privatization of the Port of Santos would be done to “attract public and private investment to the infrastructure of the country.”

AND ends with an extract of its Weekly Editorial of June 22, which we have translated: “Luiz Inácio seeks to satisfy the central interests of the dominant classes so as not to open a bigger crisis and, at the same time, re-edit cosmetic and populist measures so as to not to lose too much popularity”. And they affirm: “the demagogy used by the Lula-Alckmin government aims to keep the inert masses, out of combat, deceived by painted measures as the most useful for the Brazilian worker. In this case, there is no doubt: it is the simple continuity of linking the price of fuels at the international price of derivatives, only with an appearance different.”

To conclude they say: “It is not true that ‘Brazil is back’, as opportunists say, abject defenders of a government resulting from a reactionary coalition with big bourgeoisie and landlords – enemies of peasants and workers. In reality, what has remained is the same Brazil, the country of the big bourgeoisie, the landowners and imperialism.”

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