Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff may name Senator Blairo Maggi, whose family is the world’s largest soybean grower, as transport minister, a government official familiar with the talks said.
Details of Maggi’s appointment are still being discussed with him and his Party of the Republic, or PR, said the official yesterday. The person asked not to be named because the talks are private.
Maggi would replace fellow party member Alfredo Nascimento, who became the second Rousseff cabinet minister to resign in a month on July 6 amid allegations a kickbacks scheme was being run from his ministry. Maggi, 54, is a former governor of the state of Mato Grosso, a soy-growing area located on the southern edge of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
“It looks like Dilma found a solution that may solve her problem,” said Alexandre Barros, the head of Early Warning, a Brasilia-based political risk company. “It was the best choice as far as maintaining PR support, otherwise she would have had to rearrange things and get something else for the PR.”
Rousseff’s Workers’ Party lacks a majority in Congress and requires the support of coalition parties to pass legislation. Maggi’s party, known as the PR, has 40 members in the 513-seat lower house and seven in the 81-seat Senate. Nascimento was one of several cabinet ministers to remain in his post when Rousseff took power in January from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Soybean producers are among the businesses worst affected by Brazil’s aging transport infrastructure, having to truck their crops along roads that rank 105 out of 139 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Index, then facing delays at overcrowded ports that rank 123rd.
Maggi on July 6 warned lawmakers that Brazilian industry and agribusiness face a possible “crisis” caused by the strong real, according to a note published on his website.
Nascimento resigned yesterday four days after two of his top aides quit, one was suspended, and one went on official vacation in the wake of an article in “Veja” that alleged irregularities in the granting of contracts. The Transport Ministry on July 5 suspended for 30 days its auctions to award contracts for public works and services.
Federal prosecutors are investigating Nascimento’s 27-year- old son, Gustavo Morais Pereira, who saw a company he founded increase in value to 50 million reais ($32 million), two years after being founded with capital of 60,000 reais, O Globo newspaper reported this week, citing documents from the federal prosecutor in Amazonas state.
Nascimento was the second ally to resign from Rousseff’s cabinet this month, after the loss June 7 of her Cabinet chief, Antonio Palocci, one of her closest allies. Palocci resigned amid allegations he used his position to enrich himself serving as an intermediary for businesses doing business with the government.
Soybeans were the country’s third biggest export in the first five months of the year, behind iron ore and oil, according to the Trade Ministry. Brazil may surpass the U.S. as the world’s biggest soybean producer within five years, Maggi said in January.
The Brazil’s real has gained 8.4 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, the best performer among 7 emerging market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
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