According to Congressman Jorge Bittar (PT, Rio de Janeiro), the Government means to resume talks on this year?s tariff review with the incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs). President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met Monday, July 7, with Presidential Chief of Staff José Dirceu, Finance Minister Antônio Palocci and Communications Minister Miro Teixeira to agree a strategy that ?will avert chaos and dispel the confusion reigning in the market since the tariff reset was announced?, Dep. Bittar says. He and Dep. Walter Pinheiro (PT, Bahia) also attended the meeting.
The Government wants a solution to the torrent of injunctions granted by the courts since Anatel made its announcement. This solution has to be negotiated by Anatel, the ILECs and the Communications Ministry, Dep. Bittar says, adding that the ILECs are prepared to resume talks on this year?s tariff review and will begin by meeting with the ministry this week.
Dep. Bittar believes this new round of negotiations will result in tariff moderation and economic equilibrium as required by the terms of the ILECs? license. The main problem is that these were index-linked at privatization, and the index used (IGP-M) rose very sharply in the last 12 months. This is an inheritance from the previous Administration, he insists.
Tariff reviews under new licenses starting in 2006 will be easier to resolve because a special index has been agreed for the telecoms industry, he says. In addition, productivity will be calculated for each telco separately.
A source close to the Presidency confirms the agenda for the meeting and says the ILECs have indeed indicated their willingness to reopen discussions of this year?s tariff reset. They?re concerned about the negative repercussions for their corporate image since Anatel?s announcement, the source explains.
A source in one of the three ILECs, however, says his company hasn?t been officially notified of the meeting and doesn?t think it will be easy to resume negotiations because the tariff increase is sub judice.
According to Dep. Jorge Bittar, the Attorney General has no plans to contest the suits filed against Anatel?s decision. However, he says Anatel?s own prosecutor will do so.