By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Economist Joaquim Levy accepted the invitation to preside over Brazil’s Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES), announced future Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes on Monday.
Last week, newly-elected president, Jair Bolsonaro, stated that one of his first measures as president would be to uncover the bank’s ‘black box’.
“I am committed to start my mandate by opening up the BNDES’ ‘black box’ and revealing to the Brazilian people what has been done with their money in recent years. I believe this is a concern to everyone,” Bolsonaro wrote on his Twitter account.
An investigation by the federal police in relation to the millions of reais worth of irregular loans given out by the Bank has led to the indictment of ex-ministers Guido Mantega and Antônio Palocci, the BNDES’s ex-president, Luciano Coutinho, and meat packing tycoon Joesley Batista, of JBS.
According to the president-elect this is a priority, “It’s the people’s money and we have to know where it’s being used.”
During a brief chat with reporters, Bolsonaro said he had not spoken to Levy personally before offering him the position and that the choice was that of Paulo Guedes, his economic minister.
According to Bolsonaro, Guedes asked the newly-elected president for a ‘vote of confidence’ when nominating Levy. The president-elect further commented that he saw no inconsistencies in choosing someone that had worked in previous administrations and that there were no legal processes against Levy, and that there has been ‘nothing against his professional conduct’.
Over the years, Levy has worked in the Brazilian government many times and in many capacities. In 2000, under the government of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Levy was head of the Secretariat of Economic Policy at the Ministry of Finance.
He oversaw the country’s Treasury Department between 2003 and 2006, during the first term of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration, and in 2007 he became secretary of Finance of Rio de Janeiro in the first term of former governor Sergio Cabral.
He was also Dilma Rousseff’s finance minister during part of her second term, from January to December 2015. With the promise of carrying out a fiscal adjustment to contain public spending, Levy adopted a fiscal austerity program which ended a series of subsidies granted in Dilma’s first term including subsidies for the purchase of vehicles to for the reduction of fuel prices.
The program came under fire from many of Rousseff’s close allies and even within the PT government itself. With the mounting pressure, the economist left the government after only eleven months.
To take over the presidency of BNDES, Levy will leave his position at the World Bank in Washington DC.