In remarks about the controversial telephone tariff review Wednesday, July 9, Communications Minister Miro Teixeira omitted any allusion to the permission given to Anatel?s prosecutor to contest the many lawsuits filed against the increase in the last few days. He criticized Anatel itself for failing to champion consumers. ?Everyone knows my position,? he said. ?I?m not only against the increase awarded but I believe Anatel failed to comply with the terms of the ILECs? license that require the defense of consumers, as well as economic and financial equilibrium.?
Asked whether he would talk to the ILECs, Mr Teixeira said he would if invited but stressed that the entire issue is now sub judice. ?I?ve been pursuing a negotiated agreement since February,? he said. ?Talks may happen now, but I at least can?t see how any solution can be obtained without going through the courts. It?s a matter for the Judiciary now.?
Even if a fresh round of talks produces an agreement on a lower tariff increase, he said, it will have to be authorized by the various judges currently presiding over the challenges filed against the previous increase. The wave of court cases are a sign that Brazilian consumers are more aware of their rights and more determined to fight for them, he concluded.
Miro Teixeira rebutted Congressman Jorge Bittar?s earlier statement that the Communications Ministry will resume negotiations with the ILECs. ?The ministry won?t be recommending anything of the kind. This is all sub judice now,? he insisted. ?Please understand: There are no guarantees that whatever the Government does or recommends will be allowed by the courts.?
Commenting on Dep. Bittar?s statement about the ministerial meeting with President Lula, Mr Teixeira said: ?When I talk to the President I understand that the conversation belongs to the President. If the President deems fit he may disclose what we talked about. That?s his prerogative. All I can tell you is my own opinion. I?m not authorized either as a minister or as a congressman to speak for others or interpret what they say, however illustrious they may be.? He softened his outburst somewhat by saying it?s important for members of Congress to participate in the discussions.
Breach of contract
Responding to the claim that the Government is afraid of being sued by the ILECs for breach of contract, Miro Teixeira said some utilities might themselves be accused of that offense. He cited the case of Light. ?Breach of contract can happen, and indeed we?ve seen that in Brazil. The other day Light said they wouldn?t repay bank loans. ?Can?t pay, won?t pay,? they said. Was that breach of contract? It was.? Light is the electric power distribution utility for Rio de Janeiro State.