Public Deficit

Genserico Encarnação Jr.

Investment applications at Petrobras are not part of the Fiscal Budget or of the Government Budget. Nevertheless, they are part of the Federal Government Multiannual Investment Plan and of the national public deficit which is a more comprehensive concept than the fiscal or budgetary deficit.

The public deficit comprises the fiscal one plus the difference between the applications and the resources of all the government levels - Federal, States and Municipalities - including also the Social Security and the state-owned enterprises. In the case of Petrobras, which generally has surplus in this concept, the entrepreneurial surplus grows as investments are withdrawn, assisting in this way to lower the total public deficit.

Paradoxically, Petrobras, which does not depend on the Treasury, is included in the public deficit accounting. Therefore, if a private company invests in the country, the public deficit is not affected. But if a state-owned company, such as Petrobras or Vale do Rio Doce, does the same kind of operation, it contributes to deficit growth.

This is a conceptual aberration due to the methodology adopted by the IMF. This methodology is advantageous when, as accounts are totaled, it allows to have a panorama of the financial situation of the whole government apparatus, not restricted to the Federal Fiscal Budget accounts. Nevertheless, by not granting a case-by-case treatment, this is used to hinder the actions of state-owned enterprises with surplus (or with deficit due to an inadequate administration of public tariffs, mainly in an inflationary environment); it is like inconveniently emphasizing a disputable accounting concept, not stimulating projects that are important to economic growth. And even worse, when this is used as justification for privatization.

In regard to that, it should be noted that the National Accounting, according to the United Nations methodology, does not even include mixed-economy enterprises in the Government Account.

As it happens in the technological, educational and information areas, methodologies are not necessarily neutral. Apparently impartial, these means are serving an ideological movement.

Regarding ideology, the current trend of considering the economy, accounting, energy and even politics as non ideological is a disguised form of ideology.


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