The revision of the legal terms by decree may turn water into a non-universal right
“The dream of universalization of sanitation in Brazil may be more and more far away, since the proposal of revision of the Legal Sanitation Terms of the Federal Government—that may be edited by provisional measure—may completely dismantle the industry in the country”, warns the national president of the Associação Brasileira de Engenharia Sanitária e Ambiental – ABES (Brazilian Association of Sanitation and Environmental Engineering), Roberval Tavares de Souza. “Once more the most harmed people will be the poorer Brazilians, who live with no access to potable water and treated sewage and are subjected to get all kinds of diseases”.
Together with other entities of the area, ABES is working with the federal government, states and legislative power to remark how harmful this measure can be. In addition to the government desire of using provisional measure for the revision—to the detriment of draft bill—it will impact directly on the crossed subsidy (that allows municipalities with lower resources have access to the services).
The Article 10-A proposed by the government— that deals with the public call before the program contract—changes the Act 11445 from January 05, 2007. This article increases even more the selection against public interest: when opening public consultation, it encourages public and private operators to compete only by surplus municipalities, letting the poorer cities on their own or on state support. “This way, it makes more difficult to render services in a regional way and—when turning unfeasible the practice of crossed subsidies—it worsens the differences in quality and service coverage, harming the poorest populations. “The results will be catastrophic, since this article looks for local benefits, to the detriment of the public policy already considered in the Act 11445/07”, warns the president of ABES.
In November, the entity sent to the current Minister of Cities, Bruno Araújo, a letter suggesting to the Ministry two immediate actions. And defended—in a meeting carried out in Brasilia—the proposals contained in the document CONTRIBUIÇÕES DA ABES A MINUTA APRESENTADA PARA ALTERAÇÃO DA LEI 9.984/00 E LEI 11.445/07 (Contributions from ABES to the draft presented for change in the Act 9984/00 and 11445/07).
End of the crossed subsidy
According to the entity, after the public call there will be interested companies and public bid for the surplus municipalities. Since there is competition, the result will be the optimization of the local program. The whole surplus to be generated in the case of Program Contract tends to be consumed by the bidding process and this way will not subside the loss-making municipalities. Applying this process in the cities that currently are donors, all subsidies between municipalities will be extinguished.
For the loss-making municipalities, warns the entity, “there will be no interested people among the agents. It is even possible that there will be no interest by Program Contract. The municipality will end in the hands of public power. In this case, the financing source will be fiscal”.
From the more than 5500 municipalities of Brazil, only 500 have surplus condition in sanitation operations. “What will happen to the 5000 municipalities that currently depend on crossed subsidies? It is like the government would taking from poor people to give to the rich ones, like an upside-down Robin Hood of our times, in a moment that resources for health are being frozen through 20 years. In other words: we will not invest in sanitation to prevent diseases and we will have no resources for treating the patients. We will live in a nineteenth-century Brazil, in full 21st century”, highlights Roberval.