Brazil’s Petrobras raises fuel prices

BRAZIL’S state-owned oil company Petrobras announced Friday it is raising fuel prices, infuriating President Jair Bolsonaro as he faces an inflationary spike and a re-election bid in October.

Painful price increases, especially for food and fuel, have emerged as a key weak spot for the far-right incumbent. 

Petrobras, the largest company in Latin America, said it will hike gasoline prices by 5.18 percent and diesel prices by 14.26 percent starting Saturday.

It blamed “a challenging scenario in Brazil and the world,” the latter a reference to the war in Ukraine, which has triggered higher oil prices around the world.

Brazil has already seen fuel prices surge by over 33 percent in the past year, according to official figures with the last spike in gasoline and diesel rates coming three months ago. 

Bolsonaro reacted angrily saying Petrobras “could sink Brazil in chaos.” 

In May, Bolsonaro dismissed the president of Petrobras, who had been in the job for just 40 days, with the country’s energy ministry saying “Brazil is currently experiencing a challenging moment.”

As in many countries of the world, prices are soaring in Brazil. Inflation stands at 11.73 percent, far above the central bank’s target of 3.5 percent.

The bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the 11th straight time on Wednesday as it battles inflation.

Bolsonaro faces an uphill battle against leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), who leads in opinion polls and is remembered for presiding over a booming economy.

That is a sharp contrast to today, with Brazil’s economy struggling to bounce back from the pandemic and now reeling from the inflationary pressures unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. — AFP