By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian President Michel Temer, confirmed on Sunday that
the Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, Wellington Moreira Franco, will take over the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Moreira Franco, linked to the Lava Jato (CarWash) corruption scandal, is a strong supporter of the privatization of large public companies, such as Eletrobras.
“Nothing changes,” Moreira Franco told daily O Estado de S. Paulo after being named the new Energy Minister. “The process of capitalization of Eletrobras is a governmental policy and will follow the same parameters and the same policies seen in the Ministry, under the command of (former minister) Fernando Bezerra.”
In February 2017, President of Brazil, Michel Temer, announced he was raising the status of his close advisor and infrastructure investment secretary, Wellington Moreira Franco, to Brazil’s General Secretary of the Presidency, a cabinet-level position.
At the time there was speculation by local media that the appointment was a maneuver to give him foro privilegiado (special forum) and if accused be tried by the country’s upper courts.
According to daily Folha de S. Paulo, Moreira Franco was named 34 times in the plea-bargain deposition of a former Odebrecht executive. According to the executive, the politician received money to defend the interests of the construction conglomerate.
Although it is a priority for the economic area, the privatization of Eletrobrás faces difficulties in the political sphere. The issue is currently being discussed in Congress, where a group of lawmakers is against auctioning off the energy giant.
For Eletrobras president, Wilson Ferreira Junior, however, the privatization of the company would benefit consumers, lowering electricity bills.
“The bill seeks to correct distortions that have burdened the consumer in recent years, while laying the foundations for the future of the sector and gives Eletrobras its leading role and the ability to contribute to the expansion of the electricity sector through creation of an effectively Brazilian corporation, uniting competitiveness, valuation of the company and taxpayers’ compensation,” said Ferreira Junior in an op-page article last week.