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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Passionate ports minister points arrow towards Reais51billion of investment in sector

Brazil’s Ports Minister, Helder Barbalho, this week handed over the reins of power to Mauricio Muniz, in a move that surprised many in Brasilia, where political surprises have been coming thick and fast in recent months.

Barbalho had several meetings with Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, last week and decided in the end to leave the post, just when he was starting to make an impact on the port sector, especially the forthcoming Reais2.8 billion ($795.82 million) port concession sell-off scheduled for June.

Earlier this month Barbalho officially opened the 22nd edition of the Intermodal South America exhibition and conference with a passionate rallying cry that Brazil can overcome all the political and economic odds that it is facing this year by a “big effort” and huge investments in the port sector which, he says, will receive Reais51 billion ($14.2 billion) of investment between now and the year 2042.

And he also announced that the recently delayed second tranche of port privatisations (worth more than Reais2.8 billion for six port terminals in the north of the country) will now go ahead on June 5th, at the Sao Paulo bourse.

Disappointingly the second round was called off due to a lack of interest from foreign and Brazilian investors because of the uncertainty in the country, and the lack of clear rules in the tender process.

Finishing off the opening ceremony with a rousing flourish, Barbalho then dashed off to Santos for a ceremony there to mark improvements to the Concais Cruise Terminal.

Earlier Jean Francoise Quentin, the president of UBM Brazil, the organizers of the Intermodal South America, said that the gathering in one place of shippers, carriers, forwarders, terminal operators, trucking and rail companies from Brazil and all over the world was vital for Brazil to overcome the political and economic problems the South American country currently faced.

“With all this turbulence and uncertainty the only thing we can be sure of in Brazil is that we have the ability to overcome these problems,” declared Quentin. “Intermodal has the capacity to bring together all the major foreign trade cargo players under the one roof and this will benefit the country.

As Brazil watchers will be aware, Barbalho held on to his position as Ports Minister after the leader of his PMDB party, Michel Temer, announced he was leaving the government coalition, formerly headed by Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, of the PT Socialist Party.

After that more than 40 PMDB senators left the coalition and began calling for impeachment proceedings, but a handful, including Barbalho and one other minister stayed in their positions, with the possibility that they will break ranks with the PMDB leadership and vote against impeachment. Barbalho’s father, Jader, a senator and member of PMDB, is said to be supportive of Rousseff, and Helder Barbalho’s mother, Elcione Barbalho, did indeed vote for Rousseff and against impeachment.
Some say Barbalho stayed because he wanted to finish off the work he had started. Many say Barbalho, after a slow start, eventually earnt the respect of the port community and enjoyed the huge challenges.

And in Sao Paulo he told a packed auditorium that he was “an optimist” and that logistics and ports would play a major role in a prosperous future.

“I refuse to be catatonic when facing the huge, first challenges. There has been a lot of talk about the difficulties we are experiencing right now but we will face them and overcome them,” he declared passionately "The logistics sector plays an important role for Brazil to grow and develop. For the country to be competitive, you need a fast and efficient logistics.”

Barbalho added then that in the last five months the Secretariat of Ports authorized about Reais 8 billion of new investments, with Reais6 billion of that going on Private Use Terminals (or TUPs).

Press release 28 April 2016


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