Confira, abaixo, a entrevista do presidente do PSB Nacional e governador de Pernambuco Eduardo Campos concedida ao jornalista Jan Piotrowski do The Economist. A entrevista foi realizada em Londres, no dia 7 de novembro e publicada nesta quinta-feira (14). O conteúdo na íntegra também pode ser acessado pelo link: http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2013/11/interview-eduardo-campos
EDUARDO CAMPOS is both modern manager and old-fashioned political boss. As governor of the poor, north-eastern state of Pernambuco, he has attracted private investment, brought private managers into state hospitals, introduced elements of performance-based pay for teachers and made some schools operate a full eight-hour day, rather than the four-hour shifts common in Brazil.
He is also the leader of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and had long been its presumptive candidate to challenge President Dilma Rousseff of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) in a presidential poll next year. One thing he lacked was national name-recognition. That started to change on October 5th, when the PSB announced an alliance with Marina Silva, a popular environmental activist and, like Mr Campos, former minister in the cabinet of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Two days earlier the country’s highest electoral court had refused to register the Sustainability Network, a party being set up by Ms Silva, on the grounds that it had failed to submit the 492,000 supporting signatures that new parties must collect.
Rather than join one of a shoal of tiddler parties or withdraw from the fray, she unexpectedly plumped for the PSB, splashing her and Mr Campos’s faces on the front pages of newspapers and covers of magazines. The decision about which of them will challenge Ms Rousseff will be made early next year. Polls put Ms Silva ahead of Mr Campos in a head-to-head contest with Ms Rousseff (who beats both of them). Would Mr Campos settle for the vice-presidency?
That was one of the questions The Economist asked Mr Campos in an interview during his brief visit to London, part of a European tour, which also took in Germany, to plug Pernambuco’s business opportunities and drum up investment in the state. Besides next year’s election we discussed this year’s protests and Brazil’s perpetual political gridlock. Here is an edited version of that conversation.
Let’s start with the news. The surprise announcement about your alliance with Marina [Silva] was a huge publicity coup. How are the negotiations with the [Sustainability] Network going?
Our meeting, of PSB and the Network, my meeting with Marina, is a natural one. We share similar origins. We come from the same political camp. We were in parliament together and took a similar stance on many issues. We served in the government of President Lula [Ms Rousseff’s PT predecessor]. And both PSB and the Network have, in their own ways, been seeking a new politics.
Our encounter was provoked by the judicial decision not to register the Network as a political party for the elections in 2014. Marina decided not to remain outside the political process but also not to look for a party merely in order to be its candidate. She was looking for a programme-based alliance. She examined the political scene and found that she had most in common with the PSB.
In our first joint document issued on October 5th we set out three main points. First, our commitment to preserve Brazil’s recent achievements: democracy, economic and fiscal stability and social inclusion. Second, our wish to improve Brazilian politics in order to perfect our institutions. Third, our desire to begin a new cycle of sustainable development. These are the central points of our understanding.
Then, on October 28th, we brought together 120 politicians, scientists, researchers, activists and entrepreneurs. We began to flesh out each of the three central points with five fundamental ideas. At the beginning of next year we plan to present the outlines of our platform. We have committed ourselves to finalising the programme for government before June, in order to present to society not just a list of names to contest the election, but a way of thinking about what needs to be done in order for Brazil to make progress over the next two decades. These offer a demographic window of opportunity and thus enable an economic and social leap forward. So that Brazil succeeds in the 21st century. It is a long-term vision, with short- and medium-term objectives. It does not just take the macroeconomic perspective, but focuses on various facets of Brazilian life.
There is one potential sticking point that immediately comes to mind with respect to the coalition negotiations. One of your successes as governor of Pernambuco has been to spur agribusiness and the petrochemical industry. Marina made her name as an environmental activist who has not always been at ease with these. How would you reconcile those tensions?
Agribusiness is very important for Brazil: 25% of jobs in Brazil are linked to agriculture, from agribusiness to small family farms. Last year agribusiness’s trade surplus was twice as big as the overall trade surplus. Brazilian agribusiness has close links to science and technology. We have a splendid research base in Brazil, at our universities and Embrapa [a national agricultural-research institute]. Clearly, then, Marina and I need to talk about agribusiness. And we can help it modernise, forge more links with science, recognise the value of sustainability, compete in global markets, which nowadays demand environmentally responsible production.
Both Marina and I are also familiar with the reality of hunger. She comes from the north of Brazil and I come from the north-east, two of the poorest regions. We know from studies that in the coming decades Brazil has to ramp up food production by 40% in order to prevent food shortages around the world. Brazil features in the UN’s and FAO’s strategic planning as an important food producer. We also have a responsibility towards the roughly 200m Brazilians, many of whom still go hungry.
Brazilian agriculture, then, faces a task that is not only domestic, but global. We know very well that it is fundamental to have the support of Brazilian agribusiness. And agribusiness knows that it is fundamental that we integrate these concepts and values which are represented by Senator Marina Silva, and which we also represent.
So there is no conflict. We know that we must search for a path that is good for Brazilian agribusiness. When I served in Lula’s government as minster of science and technology, I worked together with Marina to monitor deforestation, where Brazil had a great responsibility with regard to climate change. We began monitoring the Amazon with the help of satellites and other technologies. And we managed to reverse the devastation of forest areas. We know
that Brazilian science has already developed technologies so that pastures can be reforested or converted to growing cereals. It is an important, respectful debate, and above all beneficial both for the economy and for nature.
Have you already decided which one of you will run for president and which will run for vice-president? Your presidential ambitions have been pretty clear for a while. Would you really be willing to take a back seat?
First we will take care of the programme. And we will make the decision as to the list already at the beginning of 2014. We do not see any problems with making this decision. The discussion today, for me and for Marina, is not about candidates. It is about the project for our country and our people.
What do you make of the latest polls? Dilma seems to have recovered from the summer slump and the polls suggest that she wins in the second round. The Network is not a registered political party, and will not have the television-campaign time that parties are afforded. How do you think you can beat Dilma?
I believe we will win with ideas. We will win with our story. We will win by showing that there is a new, sure way forward. And that this new way will inspire enthusiasm in Brazil, among Brazil’s young, artists, intellectuals, workers, entrepreneurs. They will see that there is more to Brazil than the polarisation [between Ms Rousseff’s PT, which has ruled since 2003, and the centrist Party of Brazilian Social Democracy, or PSDB, which governed from 1994 to 2002], which has already given Brazil all it had to give. A rigorously performed opinion poll offers a snapshot of a moment. But I have seen plenty of people win polls and lose elections. And I have seen plenty of people lose polls and win elections. Marina and I would rather win elections than polls.
Let’s assume for a moment that you are president right now. What would you be doing differently to Dilma? Where specifically is Dilma going wrong?
Some government actions are short-termist. The government has also become part of a political alliance which no longer represents the Brazilian society. These political forces would not permit anything that comes close to a solution to Brazil’s structural problems and poor public services, which need more financial and human resources. The current politics would at best leave plenty of things as they are. But at the moment we run a serious risk of regress from the end of Lula’s presidency.
You said that education, health and public services need more resources. Where will the resources come from? Do you think taxes need to rise further to meet those societal needs? Taxes in Brazil are already high by the standards of an upper-middle-income country—36% of GDP.
Under no circumstances does Brazil need to raise taxes. We need a new, more intelligent tax system, which does not multiply charges, does not hamper job creation, and does not make life difficult for small and large companies. This reform can only be done if it is passed quickly but implemented incrementally.
It is fundamental, too, that this economic environment allows us to forge foreign partnerships so that Brazilian exports add to Brazilian growth. Brazil must not confine itself to multilateral and regional trade deals. It needs to intensify bilateral commercial relationships.
So we require a macroeconomic policy with a clear vision of the market, to provide a stable business environment. If this is combined with good management—and we can only have good management if we have good managers—and with clear goals, then we can indentify waste and transform bad spending into good spending. This would open the fiscal space for investment in the important areas.
Good management depends heavily on new politics. Distributing bits of wealth in complicity with political forces that are behind the times will never lead to good management of public resources. It will always lead to a lack of money that will be plugged by dipping into taxpayers’ pockets or company coffers. We need to look for money by making the economy more efficient, employing good management standards and sound macroeconomic policy.
One of the ways to make the economy more efficient is to get the state out of business. Would you be in favour of more concessions to the private sector, public-private partnerships, auctions of state assets, privatisation?
Look at what I have done as state governor. There is your answer. We are one of the three states which do most public-private partnerships. We have no prejudice against collaboration with the private sector. We understand that there need to be clear rules so that Brazilian and foreign businessmen can do business in Brazil. We must search for resources, wherever they come from in the world, to finance good projects to improve the productivity of our economy and the quality of life, for example in the area of urban transport. Private initiative can help us deliver them.
How would you encourage Brazilian firms to invest more? One of the big problems that many people are pointing to for Brazil at the moment, for instance the OECD in its latest “Economic Outlook”, is poor productivity. So growth has for a long time mainly relied on getting more people into the labour force, and very little of the growth, about a quarter, came from increased productivity. What could be done to improve Brazilians’ productivity?
Big investments in innovation, training, focused on the most important supply chains, improved telecoms and logistical infrastructure.
There was some hope that investments from abroad might help to finance infrastructure. The Chinese seemed particularly keen on transport infrastructure. In 2010 Chinese FDI amounted to over $13 billion. This year that has so far been less than $1 billion. The government is doing something to discourage foreign investment. What could be done to encourage it again?
Clear rules and clear long-term planning would raise prospects for Brazil once again. This can be done quickly to make investments happen, with a contribution from domestic as well as foreign capital, which we welcome—especially when it supports long-term investment that will have an impact across the whole of our economy, as investments in infrastructure do.
Do you agree with the government’s decision to earmark 10% of GDP for education?
Spending on education, done well, has to be applauded. But all spending has to be carefully managed to improve quality. Brazil faces a challenge to put all its primary-school-age children in schools. And Brazil has to overcome the identity crisis of secondary-school teaching. All children who wish to partake in a full day of school should be able to. We need to look at the curriculum so that it does not only shape citizens who will seek more knowledge but also makes them understand the world of work. Today our children have access to sources of knowledge other than school: mobile phones, computers. They no longer fancy boring lessons which are disconnected from their day-to-day lives and from what they perceive in the world of work. We need to create schools which our young people want to attend, because there will be interesting lessons on interesting topics which shape not just citizens but also tomorrow’s professionals.
How have you gone about doing that in Pernambuco?
With difficulties. All change encounters incomprehension and reactionary forces. You have to be open to suggestions in order to win support from the public at large and from the educational community: officials, teachers, pupils, pupils’ families. To make them see that these changes are making schools better, that when children leave school they are able to proceed to university, others join the workforce, others still start a business. It stops being a lose-lose and becomes a win-win.
Next year, wherever you are in Pernambuco you will have access to a full school day. Schools will be integrated with technical colleges that prepare pupils for the workplace. They will be integrated with universities, too, with tertiary institutions coming to each one of the state’s microregions. Such a structure to encourage knowledge-creation will affect social and economic standards; a state with universities, technical colleges and full school days is very different from a state where pupils learn part-time, professional training is entirely absent, and where universities are the privilege only of those who live in the state capital.
Speaking of states, do you think that the balance of power between states, like the one you run, and the federal government needs to change?
The Brazilian federal pact has changed markedly since 1988. The constitution of 1988 marked the re-democratisation of Brazil. [Brazil was governed by a military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985, with full democracy only restored in 1989.] At that time those who wrote it imagined a federation, which brought power closer to local communities. Municipalities and states gained clout. The central government, which had been an expression of vanquished authoritarian rule, would lose some. After the constitution of 1988 the economy hit a decade-long rough patch. Changes to the text of the constitution and in legislation actually went in the opposite direction, concentrating power in the central government again. Today there is a strong feeling that a decentralised federation needs to reassert itself.
Brazil has peculiarities which make it different to other federal countries. We have a third federal entity: the municipalities. These do not exist in such a form in other federal realities. At this moment, both municipalities and states are fiscally squeezed by a series of decisions made by the central government which decreased revenues while forcing them to increase spending. We ought to revisit the federal pact.
Brazilian bosses complain that interstate commerce is burdened with heavy taxes. For example, if one company ships some of its goods from a warehouse in one state to a warehouse in another state, that might trigger a VAT transaction. That seems to be a huge impediment to internal trade. Brazil is a big country, so it has a lot of potential for internal trade. How can this be dealt with?
This is something that is awfully wrong with the Brazilian tax system. In principle, tax on goods should be paid at their destination, where revenue is generated. Today Brazil does this in its external trade, where until the 1990s we had export taxes. In interstate commerce we still do. And why did this happen? It happened because when ICMS [a state sales tax] was grafted onto the 1988 constitution, the relevant rule was meant to be applied the following year. But if the revenue/destination principle were introduced right away, states like São Paulo would take a hit. So instead of writing a rule for the transition period, for two decades we have had the only value-added-tax system in the world where the tax burden is shared by the state which dispatches the goods and the state which receives them. This causes terrible confusion. Take logistics: some lorries carrying goods for customers who lack the right paperwork are held at tax offices, which is insane in the world of e-commerce. We are working on a transition rule which would affirm the destination principle, even before broader tax reform we could have a transition rule which reduces precisely this negative aspect of our system.
Pernambuco is a fast-growing state and Recife [the state capital] is booming. But it still has several hundred favelas [slums]. Some of your critics have said that you should do more to tackle poverty. How would you answer them?
I would like to do more. I believe that we must always strive to do more. Above all we must focus on doing more for the poorest, because poverty cannot wait. We have inherited a Brazil which has not looked after its poor throughout history. In Pernambuco, some of these critics are the heirs of those who during five centuries looked after the powerful and neglected those who lived in the favelas. And it makes me very happy to see their current preoccupation with the poor, which they did not display while governing Pernambuco.
What can be done in order to bring more people out of poverty in Brazil? It has had tremendous success in becoming an upper-middle-income country, but there are still lots of poor people.
More not only could be done, but must be done. If Brazil fails to achieve sustainable development we could see many of those who climbed out of it fall all the way back down. Because to reach their new level many took on debt, to buy a motorcycle, appliances, a television or a car. Only development will help meet these commitments. And although the social safety net has improved markedly, it would help us stitch together a better one. Ultimately, though, education is the key. It liberates people, families and communities from misery and poverty once and for all.
What do you think motivated the protest in June? Why did the protests erupt and why did they erupt at that time?
Because people wanted a better Brazil. If I weren’t governor I would have taken to the streets too. I had marched in 1984 in order to demand direct elections and to put an end to authoritarian rule. Eight years later I marched together with students calling for impeachment [of the then president Fernando Collor de Mello, who resigned but whom the Senate proceeded to impeach anyway, and bar from elected office for eight years] that would enable a coalition government which was succeeded by that of President Fernando Henrique [Cardoso, of the PSDB, who ruled in 1995-2002 and is credited with bringing Brazil out of economic chaos]. We returned to the streets in 2002 to see Lula win the presidency on his fourth attempt. That marked an important turning point for social inclusion [Lula was a union leader and not part of Brazil’s ruling elite].
In contrast to other parts of the world where protests have taken place in the past months Brazilians did not take to the streets seeking to overthrow authoritarian regimes, since Brazil no longer had one. Or to demand rights of which they had been deprived, because they hadn’t been. They took to the streets seeking new rights, new political standards. The institutions of the increasingly digital, real Brazil demanded change from the analogue Brazilian state. The agenda was clear: good schools, good health care, not having to spend five hours a day on the bus commuting to and from work. It has two aspects: more abstract values and the right to a utopian vision of a better society; and, concretely, a demand for better public services. When you examine this agenda and then look at the Brazilian politics charged with enacting it, you rapidly conclude there is a disconnect. Marina and I, PSB and the Network, joined up in order make that link.
One of the reasons that Brazilian politics is in such an impasse is that it is terribly fragmented. That is in part a consequence of the way in which the system is set up. How do you ensure that the political system works more efficiently?
First, we must understand that Brazilian democracy is very young. It is for less than 30 years that we have had the right to elect the president or state governors. Second, we have to begin to set in motion a political reform in stages, as with tax reform. It is impossible to reform for the next election. To make such a reform in a democracy the legislature has to approve it. And if you are going to get a reform passed through both houses of Congress, it is only natural that people who would vote on this reform should ask themselves—not publicly, perhaps, but certainly when the time comes to cast the vote: “Is this better or worse for my party? Is it better or worse for me, in terms of retaining my mandate?” So already at its birth the reform is hampered by the interests of those who are representing us through a system that we think is imperfect, and who therefore are not the best representatives that we believe the society can have.
We must design the reform so that that it enters into force incrementally: a part in four years, a part in eight years, a part in 12 years. That way you depersonalise the process. We have yet to broach this subject in detail in our discussions with the Network but the PSB has already advocated some ideas about what to do first: make executive elections [for president, governors and mayors] coincide with legislative polls; impose five-year terms without re-election for executive offices; introduce a threshold so that only parties with at least 5% of the vote get seats in the legislative [which would leave Brazil with just seven or eight political parties]; and end proportional coalitions [the rule whereby politicians can get elected on the excess votes of others in their coalition, displacing candidates the electorate preferred]. These four proposals would already generate a political framework that is much more favourable to political reform.
This is a long-term process. It won’t be achieved within the next year. Do you think people will take to the streets again in the run-up to the World Cup and the presidential election?
At that moment, institutions responded to some of the most burning items on the agenda. Congress voted, government slashed transport fees, the president proposed a variety of pacts. Visible but marginal groups began to provoke scenes of violence in parts of Brazil. All this caused the original movement to retreat, not least because the people who took to the streets in June did not want to be associated with acts of violence and civil insubordination. But this year or next people will continue, on the internet, when casting votes, during political campaigns, to express this feeling of wanting more. I share it. The Brazilian street is teaching us a lesson: the dream has not ended. We start talking again of utopian ideals, set goals which may seem impossible but which, if achieved, will improve life in Brazilian cities and the countryside.