Alexandrine Brami Celentano, Jean-Marc Siroën

Since the 1970s, the world follows a triple evolution in favor of democratization, opening and decentralization. Brazil has been following this movement with a democratic and decentralizing constitution and by the adoption of market-friendly policies. However, since the Real Plan (1993), Brazil is recentralizing its fiscal policy. The huge increase of public expenses is predominantly at the profit of the Union, which imposes new fiscal constraints to the States and Municipalities. If the international integration is frequently associated to tax limitations and decentralization, Brazil would depart from this general trend. However Brazilian integration is recent and partial. Integration does not seem to increase inequalities what would justify a centralized transfer from the “winning” regions to the “losing” ones. The fiscal recentralization by higher public expenses might be therefore explained by the political will to reduce initial inequalities and to implement a better social protection. We show that fiscal recentralization is also the consequence of a distorted fiscal system notably in the nature of social security taxes and the type of VAT (ICMS) applied by States.

François d'Arcy

This study, which examines the chances of success of the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, takes as its starting point the idea that the main obstacle resides in the structure of the Brazilian political system. Being unable to reform that system, President Lula has skilfully adapted to it, but not without having to forge certain unusual alliances. He has, nevertheless, honoured the campaign promises which brought him to power after three unsuccessful attempts in a row, maintaining anti-inflationary policies and strict budgetary discipline, and respecting commitments given concerning public debt and privatised companies. This macroeconomic policy – which follows on from that of Fernando Henrique Cardoso – dominated his government’s first year in office, slowing the implementation of new policies addressing social issues and sustainable development. So far, the latter policies would appear to point more to continuity than to radical change, a fact which will, doubtless, contribute greatly to their success.

Luisa Palacios

This paper studies the institutional transformation of Latin America’s oil sector. It discusses specific policy choices and the timing of reforms in this industry. Latin American countries present different models of openness and energy-sector dynamics, and allow for an analysis of the liberalization process from a range of points of view: that of an importer (Brazil), of a historically self-sufficient country (Argentina) and of oil exporters (Mexico and Venezuela). The degree of dependence on oil revenues has proven in general to be negatively correlated with the level of openness of the oil sector. That is, countries more dependent on their oil sector for foreign and fiscal revenues tend to be less liberalized and open to private investment. This principle also holds true in Latin America: oil importers and self-sufficient countries like Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil indeed have oil industries that are relatively more open to private sector participation than those of the oil exporters in the region (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico). However, different levels of openness exist within these general categories of importers and exporters. This paper will further argue that differences among countries in the same category are a function of the strategic and financial position prior to reform of their respective National Oil Companies (NOC), which is in turn related to the institutional evolution of the oil industries in these countries.