Monday, October 25

Brazil house speaker says house will vote on fuel tax proposal next week

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BRASILIA — Brazil’s lower house will vote on a proposal to fix a state tax rate on gasoline and diesel next week, speaker Arthur Lira said on Tuesday, adding that the plan hoped to reduce the impact on consumers of rising fuel prices.

Speaking to reporters, Lira said the project sought to stabilize the so-called ICMS state tax rate on fuel by fixing it annually according to the average of the two previous years.

ICMS is a tax on sales and services and applies to the movement of goods, transportation, communication services and other supplies. Currently it is set every 15 days, making it fluctuate regularly.

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Fuel prices have become a hot political topic in Brazil, with truckers increasingly angry at the rising costs. President Jair Bolsonaro, eager not to lose an important support base, has sought to calm frustrations and pushed for change in the ICMS tax.

It has put pressure on state-run oil company Petrobras.

So far this year, diesel prices at the refinery have risen more than 50%, prompting politicians to call on the company to exercise a “social function” by helping to limit inflation.

Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Joaquim Silva e Luna pushed back last week, saying there was “zero” risk that the company would seek to artificially control fuel prices even amid growing public outrage over inflation. (Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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