Postal service privatization bill submitted to Brazilian House of Representatives
Government’s bill also addresses restructuring postal service and changes to the role of telecommunications agency
On February 2, 2021, Bill No. 591/2021 was submitted to the Brazilian House of Representatives, providing a legal framework for postal services. The bill sets forth the provision of postal services by the private sector, while enabling the divestment of a minority portion of state-owned company Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos’s (ECT) shares in the private market. It also makes the Brazilian Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) responsible for the regulation and supervision of postal services.
Postal services provided by the private sector
According to Article 21, item X of the Brazilian Constitution, the State is responsible for maintaining postal services. ECT currently holds a monopoly on these services, as per Article 2, item I of Decree-Law No. 509/1969.
The bill intends to authorize a private framework for the provision of the postal services by the private sector, within the National Postal Service System (SNSP). As referenced in Article 4 (paragraph 1) and Article 6 (sole paragraph), the following postal services are included in this framework:
- simple or registered letters;
- simple or registered printed material;
- postal items subject to nationwide delivery with regulatory agency-defined dimensions and weight; and
- telegram services, where necessary infrastructure exists.
Article 4, paragraph 2 of the bill establishes that the private framework for postal services is subject to the constitutional principles of economic order, consumer rights, affordable tariff prices, quality standards and service coverage expansion goals, as per legislation regarding the sector.
In line with the Brazilian Constitution, Article 5 of Bill No. 591/2021 states that the Federal Government shall be responsible for maintaining the nationwide provision of the postal services described above. Thus, if the private sector is not interested in providing services in certain areas, the Federal Government will be responsible for postal services in those regions.
The bill determines that ECT shall have exclusive responsibility for the following postal services in Article 24:
- customer service, collection, sorting, transport and distribution of letters and postcards;
- public telegram services; and
- customer service, collection, sorting, transport and distribution of grouped mail.
The exclusive responsibility for these services is valid for five years from the law’s publication date and can also be restricted through a Federal Government act (e.g. a decree).
However, the bill does authorize ECT to grant concessions for the services described above, for a contractually defined period, according to Article 25. In this case, the concessionaire must assume ECT’s rights and obligations for postal franchise agreements already in effect, as per Federal Law No. 11,668/2008.
Therefore, Bill No. 591/2021 aims to increase the presence of the private sector in the Brazilian postal services, either via directly providing services or via concessions.
Minority acquisition of ECT
Bill No. 591/2021 also authorizes a minority acquisition of ECT’s shares by private investors (the Federal Government currently holds 100% of the shares), thus becoming a corporation called “Correios do Brasil S.A.”.
Essentially, the bill introduces general rules for the SNSP, though without directly addressing the privatization of ECT.
Anatel’s new duties
Bill No. 591/2021 also aims to expand the duties of Anatel as provided by Article 16 of Federal Law No. 9,472/1997, in order to make the agency responsible for the regulation and supervision of Brazilian postal services.