Brazil govt minister requests minimum freight to be suspended

22 Jul 2019 | Rei Geyssens

Brazil’s Minister of Transport has requested the country’s transport agency to temporarily suspend the new minimum freight price announced last week that has generated a new wave of truck drivers' protests.

The minister has called for an extraordinary hearing scheduled for 1800 local time today to discuss the new rates, followed by a fresh round of meetings with industry and government representatives this Wednesday.

“A significant share of transport agents is unsatisfied [with the new rates],” Minister Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas wrote in an official letter to the National Land Transport Agency (ANTT).

“Conceptual differences regarding the value of freight and the minimum floor can have repercussions on the final payment to truck drivers,” Freitas added.

In May 2018, the minimum freight table was brought in to compensate truckers for what they said were unsustainable price hikes in the cost of diesel, after an 11-day strike paralysed a vast country where over 95% of all goods is transported by roads.

The new rates introduced significant more variables into the calculation, splitting it up into 11 cargo categories, compared to one in the previous schedule, while adding loading and unloading time of the truck, depreciation cost of the vehicle, and remuneration of the truck driver and taxes.

The government will continue to seek consensus in the cargo transportation sector, Freitas said, who took office in January and has been part of the dialogue since.

When ANTT published the new rates last it week, it said it had received over 500 contributions as part of the process and that “a significant part of these contributions was accepted and served as a support for the improvement of the proposal."