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Rousseff Said to Consider Maggi for Brazil Transport Role

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff may name Senator Blairo Maggi as transport minister after the previous holder of the office resigned because of corruption allegations, 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, 55, would replace fellow party member Alfredo Nascimento, who became the second Rousseff cabinet minister to quit in a month on July 6 amid allegations a kickbacks scheme was being run from his ministry. Maggi, whose family is among the world’s largest soybean growers, is a former governor of the state of Mato Grosso, a region 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.”

Coalition Parties

Rousseff’s Workers’ Party lacks a majority in congress and requires the support of coalition parties to pass legislation. Maggi’s party 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 most affected by Brazil’s aging transport infrastructure, having to truck their crops along a road system that ranks 105 out of 139 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Index. They then face 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.

In 2005, Greenpeace International awarded Maggi its Golden Chainsaw Award for the person who most contributed to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper reported today that Maggi told PR leaders that he isn’t interested in accepting the post, without saying where it obtained the information.

Four Top Aides

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 it was founded with capital of 60,000 reais, O Globo newspaper reported this week, citing documents from the federal prosecutor in Amazonas state.

Rousseff lost one of her key allies on June 7 when her cabinet chief, Antonio Palocci, resigned amid allegations he used his position to enrich himself by 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 real has appreciated 48 percent since the start of 2009, the best performance among 25 emerging market currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

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