Brazil's government will not proceed with the privatization of the port of Santos, the largest in Latin America, the incoming minister of ports and airports was quoted as saying on Thursday by a Brazilian newspaper.
Marcio Franca, tapped to head the ministry in President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's government, told O Estado de S. Paulo's online edition that the decision had been made not to privatize the port, located just southeast of Sao Paulo and a key gateway for exports of agricultural commodities including soybeans and sugar.
Franca could not be reached for comment on the decision, which was widely expected as close advisers to Lula had said publicly they were against the privatization plan.
President Jair Bolsonaro's administration had pressed ahead with plans to privatize the Santos port in the second half of 2022, but it could not clear hurdles related to the process, including getting final approval from the Federal Audit Court.
"The (privatization) auction will not take place," Franca was quoted as saying in O Estado. "The port authority will remain state-owned."
The incoming minister said there was a chance to engage private companies to operate private terminals at the Santos port.
He added, however, that while the incoming government has no issues with private-sector involvement in port activities, the state should be able to properly regulate the sector.
"We asked that everything be postponed so that the (incoming) president can give his opinion."
(Reuters - Reporting by Ana Mano; additional reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; editing by Paul Simao)