Before reaching the table, food goes through a long production chain. From rural producers to retailers, market mechanisms and public policies determine the quality, price and supply capacity of products. When everything is fine, you don’t usually think about it, but if the price goes up or the product is out, everyone wants to know what happened.
The economic crisis that is dragging on in the country, aggravated by the pandemic, is a warning sign for the risk of food insecurity. In this case, the expectation is that the hand of the State will take action to prevent the increase in poverty.
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However, what is seen in the current policy of the Bolsonaro government is the opposite. The drive for privatization, even of profitable and strategic companies, is the goal of economic policy at any cost. Mostly for the benefit of private initiative and political commitments.
It is within this context that society can witness the privatization of CeasaMinas, one of the largest food supply centers in the country. The privatization auction of this profitable public company is scheduled for November, with an announced minimum price of R$253.2 million. However, the estimated value of the company is over R$ 2 billion, according to a survey by the Union of Active Retired Workers and Pensioners of the Federal Public Service of the State of Minas Gerais (Sindsep-MG).
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To reach this value, the prices of commercial points were estimated, formed by the 760 companies installed in six warehouses, plus the values of land and physical facilities. In all, the units are responsible for supplying 12.7 million people in 870 cities, with an annual supply of 2.4 million tons of vegetables, cereals and industrialized products (food and non-food).
In 2020, the gross operating revenue was BRL 55.758 billion with a net profit of BRL 5.405 million. A drop of 12.27% compared to 2019. This gives evidence of the scrapping that usually precedes privatization programs.
Who is interested in selling a profitable company at a bargain price?
Federal deputy Patrus Ananias (former minister of Social Development and Fight against Hunger in the Lula government) delivered an official letter to the Public Ministry’s attorney at the Federal Court of Accounts against the privatization of CeasaMinas, also questioning the negligible values for the sale of the company.
Workers, producers and several parliamentarians have already demonstrated against the sale and created a movement to prevent privatization. There is no doubt that privatizing CeasaMinas will weaken the food security policy in Minas Gerais and leave supply to the private sector.
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For the director of Sindsep-MG, Sânia Barcelos Reis, privatization will prevent food from reaching a fair price on the consumer’s table. “The company’s objective is to manage the food supply. As soon as it is privatized and profit becomes the main objective, the final consumer will feel the increase in the price of food”, he points out.
“Ceasa is ours! It is not from the private sector”, says Cida Carvalho, president of the Recreative and Beneficent Association of CeasaMinas Employees (Arbece). The demand is for workers to be heard and considered. CeasaMinas has around 230 employees.
The Commercial Association of Ceasa de Minas (ACCeasa) is in favor of privatization to improve the structure of warehouses that “are falling apart”, as they say.
However, according to the contract rules, the costs with the maintenance of the installations is an obligation of the concessionaires. But, on the eve of privatization, even with the entire cost of living rising, the condominium fee was reduced from R$17.24 per m2 (Nov/2015) to R$10.00 per m² as of September 2021.
A public hearing is scheduled before the privatization auction. To accompany the actions against the privatization of CeasaMinas, the movement created a profile on social networks Ceasa é de Minas.
CeasaMinas in numbers:
– Supplies 12.7 million people in 870 cities
– It handles 2.4 million tons of food
– There are more than 90 thousand people a day in its 6 warehouses.
– The Contagem warehouse has 44 pavilions and a Producer Free Market (which belongs to the Government of Minas Gerais).
– 4 thousand producers in the Free Producer Market (MPL), 50% of which are from family farming.
How CeasaMinas works
CeasaMinas is a company that performs the concession of public areas for the private sector through use concession contracts. Commercialization is carried out by rural producers and private companies that pay monthly usage fees.
Its role is to inspect and control what is sold, even keeping operating costs low so that food does not suffer abusive increases in wholesale sales. Studies carried out by the technical staff contribute to supply and social policies.
Source: BoF Minas Gerais
Edition: Elis Almeida