Congressman Christino Áureo (PP-RJ) concluded on Tuesday (14) a report on the bill that creates the Social Gas program, which intends to subsidize the purchase of gas cylinders for low-income families. The project is under an emergency regime, according to the rapporteur, and has the support of the government.
The project provides for the payment of half the value of the cylinder to families registered in the Cadastro Único for social programs of the federal government. The number of families served, however, will depend on how much the government is willing to spend.
The idea is that the subsidy is financed with the collection of Cide (Contribution for Intervention in the Economic Domain) charged for fuel, with oil royalties and with part of the revenue from the sale of pre-salt oil volumes that belong to the Union.
The debate over the return of the subsidy for the purchase of gas started after the beginning of the pandemic, which had a strong impact on employment, especially among informal workers, and gained strength in the first half with the rise in the price of fuel.
According to the ANP (National Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Agency), the average price of a 13-kilogram cylinder rose 29% only in 2021, reaching R$ 96.89 last week – there are places where the price reaches R$ 100. In the year, Petrobras increased its refinery price by 66%, following the oil recovery and the exchange rate devaluation.
In the report filed on Tuesday, Áureo says that the increase in the price of gas “puts excessive pressure on the income of the poorest families, making it practically impossible for families in extreme poverty to have access to cooking gas at the value currently sold”.
With the end of emergency aid and unemployment still on the rise, experts have been warning of the migration of consumers to more polluting fuels, such as firewood or charcoal, and calling for public policies to guarantee low-income consumers access to cylinders.
“It is clear that the need for social isolation to contain the advance of Covid-19 has increased unemployment and further aggravated hunger in our country”, defends Áureo, in his justification for the proposal.
TO sheet, he said he believes the project will be voted on soon. “There is an urgent request. The project was temporarily removed from the agenda because there was priority in other matters, but it was already on the agenda”, he says. “The project is ready to vote, so it will be on the agenda anytime.”
The Gas Social project brings together a series of proposals on the subject, both from parties aligned with the government and from representatives of the opposition. It provides that Caixa Econômica Federal and Banco do Brasil issue magnetic cards to program beneficiaries.
Coordination should be the responsibility of the Ministry of Citizenship, which would sign agreements with states and municipalities to monitor and inspect the program. Each beneficiary would be entitled to six cylinders per year.
With the popularity impacted by rising fuel prices, President Jair Bolsonaro zeroed federal taxes on gas cylinders in March, but the benefit amount, of R$ 2.18, was swallowed up by price increases at refineries.
The measure was criticized by the market, for guaranteeing exemption for both poor and richer families, who allocate a much smaller portion of their income to purchase fuel, at the cost of a tax exemption of around R$ 1 billion per year.
Part of the collection for Social Gas, says Áureo, would come from an increase in Cide in an amount equivalent to this exemption, with the allocation of resources to the subsidy. The Executive would define how much of the revenue from the sale of oil could be used.
At the end of July, President Jair Bolsonaro even said that Petrobras had a plan to reduce the cost of the gas canister for the low-income population, but the company then stated that there was no definition and that such a proposal would depend on approval by the governance area.
The state-owned company’s statute prohibits it from financing public policies that generate damage to its operations. The text determines that the company covers from the Union any losses to investments in the public interest or with the granting of subsidies.