With a decision having been pending for a year and a half, and with almost two years having passed since the government's publication of the investment program for the port sector, the Federal Audit Court (TCU) has finally given the go ahead to the first bidding round for the lease of terminals in public ports. Following this decision, it is expected that the first call to bid will now be republished within 60 days.

The TCU had been analyzing the studies presented by the government for lease of the 29 public terminal areas (those located within the organized port area) in the ports of Santos (SP), Belém (PA), Santarém (PA), Vila do Conde (PA), Outeiro (PA) and Miramar (PA) since October 2013. It is expected that investment will reach R$ 4.7 billion.

Amongst other resolutions, the TCU has allowed the government the freedom to establish the tariff policy it deems appropriate to each case as long as the decision is technically and economically justified. As such, the door is open for adoption of different regulatory models; from a regulated tariff (chosen from amongst different methodologies, including the maximum tariff that would be subject to periodic review) to a system that would be closer to that of free pricing. In practice, the government can make use of the originally intended judging criteria – the lowest tariff or greatest capacity of cargo transported with a negotiated price – or even consider  charging exactions (regarded as being the most appropriate to the country's current economic situation).

This new step forward by the TCU has taken place at a moment when the Government is demonstrating its intention to reintroduce infrastructure concessions. In the ports sector, beyond the leasing of port terminals, the Government plans to grant the private sector with licenses for dredging in the channels that provide access to Brazil's ports. The model to be adopted remains open, but one may not dismiss that such model will considerably reduce the current scope of action of the 'Companhias de Docas' ('Docking Companies', which are state-owned corporations incumbent upon the management of public ports).

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