Unsurprisingly, in recent years the Municipal, State and Federal Brazilian governments have strongly advocated the Privatization of Brazilian public assets, Concessions, PPPs (Public-Private Partnerships), among other formats regarding transfer of control or management to the private sector, as one of the alternatives to obtain extra resources to reduce public account losses, expenses and also increase the volume of public infrastructure investments (for example, safety, transportation, schools and hospitals).
In addition to the direct benefits mentioned above, much is discussed about two other possible benefits indirectly resulting from this migration from public to private: improvement of service quality provided by state-owned enterprises (SOEs and the reduction of corruption that still plagues Brazil.
This does not mean that all SOEs are inefficient and that every government employee is disqualified and/or corrupt. Nor can it be said with certainty that, for example, the privatized company will be an example of efficiency, transparency and ethics. The fact is, there are numerous corruption scandals trumpeted in the news, involving major Brazilian SOEs, including some of them: Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica Federal, Petrobras, Eletrobras, Eletronuclear, Correios, etc.
In recent years we have seen an excellent performance by some Brazilian government agencies in investigating corruption, such as the Federal Comptroller General (Controladoria Geral da União - CGU), the Federal Police Department (Departamento de Polícia Federal - DPF), the Federal Court of Accounts (Tribunal de Contas da União - TCU), the Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministério Público - MP) and the Council for Financial Activities Control (Conselho de Controle das Atividades Financeiras - COAF). These public institutions, among others, are fundamental in supervising and disseminating the integrity culture and ethics within SOEs, in order to reduce the damage resulting from illicit conducts.
Also, from the legislative point of view, there have been several advances in the fight against corruption within Brazilian SOEs and government agencies. Just to mention a few recent examples: the Fiscal Responsibility Law (Complementary Law No. 100/2000), aiming to ensure greater transparency in the allocation of public resources, the Access to Information Law (Law No. 12,527/2011), which aims to guarantee the right of access to public information requested by any citizen, the Anti-Corruption Law also known as Brazilian Clean Company Act (Law No. 12,846/2013), aiming at the objective liability, in the civil and administrative scope, of companies that practice harmful acts against the national or foreign public administration and the State-Owned Company Responsibility Law (Law No. 13,303/2016), where there was an effort to reduce the incidence of SOEs political appointments, in favor of ethics and technical training to perform certain job duties.
However, despite all legislative and government agencies efforts, it is clear that the political influence in appointing positions in SOEs by professionals linked to governing authorities or political parties, also known as the political apparatus of SOEs, in many cases as a result of the exchange of favors, continue to be the trigger for corruption scandals in Brazil, regardless of their proven public office qualification.
World history has shown in many cases that, the greater the presence of the bureaucratized State in the corporations and the population lives, the greater the incidence of corruption through the "sale" of facilities by public agents.
In Brazil this story has not been different, hence the constant pursuit for greater efficiency, transparency, ethics and enforcement, thus aiming to reduce corruption. For this reason it is necessary to evaluate case by case, with caution, impartiality and competence, the economic viability of this impetus to transfer, whatever the chosen format, the management of the SOEs to the private sector.