Dilma keeps Luciano Coutinho as the head of BNDES

The economist Luciano Coutinho will continue in charge of the Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (National Bank for Economic and Social Development – BNDES). The invitation was made by the President Dilma Rousseff before the carnival, but only this Thursday he was confirmed in the position. The announcement was expected since Dilma shifted Aldemir Bendine from Banco do Brasil to Petrobrás.

In an internal memorandum distributed to the employees of BNDES this Thursday, Coutinho defined the invitation to remain in the position as a “demonstration of trust”. “I am sure that together we will be able to overcome with quality and efficiency the new challenges that lie ahead,” said Coutinho, in the statement know by o Estado.

With the confirmation in the position, Coutinho will complete 8 years as the head of BNDES in May. He is heading to become the longest serving in the position – he is only behind Marcos Vianna, who died in 2012 and held the presidency for eight years and seven months, from 1970 to 1979.

Coutinho’s leave was designed after the elections, when Rousseff announced changes in the economic team. BNDES current profile did not fit the new rules proposed by Joaquim Levy and Nelson Barbosa, who would lead the country’s economy, with view on cuts of expenses and closing of public funding taps with subsidized interest rates.

Although Coutinho defends profile change in the bank, with less contribution of Treasury funds to the institution, there was some resistance from Dilma to the idea and, therefore, the two had already diverged, according to the president’s interlocutors. Coutinho had already expressed such discomfort to Dilma.

Despite the cost-cutting proposed by Levy, Dilma wanted BNDES continuing to be one of the drivers of the economy, offering financing to large companies, as it has been done in recent years.

In this scenario, the idea was to put Bendine as the head of BNDES. However, the crisis of Petrobras hit Dilma, who preferred to move the former president of BB to the state-owned enterprise of oil. From there, the permanence of Coutinho, who would be at the bank to conduct the transition of command and profile of the institution at first, started to be crystallized.

The gap between Dilma and Coutinho began in mid-2013, when Dilma dismissed João Carlos Ferraz of BNDES, to be replaced by Wagner Bittencourt, former Minister of Civil Aviation and a confidence man for her. The discomfort continued when there was the auction of railroads and Coutinho was not consulted on interest set for the competition.

Then, the complaint continued with the fact that Coutinho has to continue in the compliance with guidance from the federal government to expand the provision of subsidized loans in an attempt to stimulate the economy. However, despite all these disagreements, Coutinho ended up in the position.

A possible exit of Luciano Coutinho from the presidency of BNDES was speculated for some time, but the executive does not received formal indications from Planalto, that he would step down. According to a source close to the summit of the bank, in recent months, despite speculation, Coutinho was still receiving demands from Dilma.

For the market, Coutinho exit made sense with the arrival of Joaquim Levy to the Ministry of Finance. Connected to one of the main academic centers of the country’s developmental economy, Unicamp, many ideas of the BNDES president are opposed to Levy, PhD from the University of Chicago (USA), of liberal trend.

In the first interview after being official at the end of November, Levy signaled the end, or at least the moderation of contributions in public banks.

Days later, Coutinho gave an interview in a rush to comment one more Treasury contribution in the bank of R$ 30 billion. At the time, the president of BNDES announced tax increase and moderation in lending – that would be detailed by himself, days before Christmas.

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