Junco is a rural district in the municipality of Jacobina with 80 thousand inhabitants, in the Sertão da Bahia. In Junco, there is no hospital, but there is a post office. The presence of the Brazilian Postal and Telegraph Company (ECT) is emblematic in small cities in Brazil: more than the postage itself, it is through the 100% public state-owned company that residents of these locations access services such as collection of retirement and social benefits , regularization of CPF and with Detran, and even receipt of school supplies.
A resident of Recife, doctor in psychology Nathália Diorgenes regularly exchanges correspondence with her family that resides in Junco. “It’s very far away, so there are documentation things, bank issues, powers of attorney that we need to send. We are always in need of this service”, he comments. However, for Nathália, the Bill (PL) 591/2021 that intends to privatize the Correios threatens its existence in the district.
“I wonder if the private sector is going to maintain a post office in Junco, or in any city in the North and Northeast that has less parcel traffic. If you are going to travel to distant places, without being paved, or if you need to arrive by boat to deliver your order. I believe that this will affect the municipalities a lot and affect the black population, the majority in these territories”, he ponders.
The basic text of the PL, approved in the Chamber of Deputies on the 5th, prohibits the closing of agencies that guarantee the provision of universal postal service in remote areas of the country, despite the possible low economic attractiveness.
Even so, the entities representing the Correios’ employees are also concerned that the company’s capillarity may be harmed if it is granted to the private sector.
Hálisson Tenório, general secretary of the Union of Workers at the Post and Telegraph Company of Pernambuco (SINTECT-PE) and director of the National Federation of Workers at the Brazilian Post and Telegraph Company (FENTECT), summarizes the issue by explaining that the Post Office they are not aimed at profit, they are aimed at serving the Brazilian population, but this is only possible because it is a public company.
“Correios is the only public company in the country that is present in 5,570 Brazilian municipalities. This is only possible because it is a public company that works with cross-subsidy – where the municipalities with surpluses, which today are only 324, finance the others that cause losses. In 5,200 municipalities, it is a loss to maintain a Post Office”, he contextualizes.
According to Tenório, two thousand cities have Correios as the only representative of the federal government. “Including, in them, the only bank that works is the postal bank. There is no bank branch.”
“With privatization, what is designed to happen is that these deficit municipalities will not be served by private companies, which will certainly create macro-regions in which the population of one municipality will have to move to another more productive one to use the services”, he projects.
He draws a parallel with the US state company responsible for postal services in the world’s main economy — the United States Postal Service (USPS). “The United States has the public postal service, which even causes losses of US$ 2 billion annually, but, because they know the importance of public service, they maintain it”, he says. The USPS is even bigger than the Post Office, with a workforce of 495.9 thousand people, while the Brazilian has about 98 thousand employees. It is through the USPS that American votes are held: votes are sent through the postal service.
Correios also assumes the role of the largest logistics operator in Brazil. “When there is a catastrophe situation in a certain region, it is the postal service that arrives first to take warm clothes, water, food, etc. There were several moments when not even the Army was able to arrive that fast”, recalls Tenório. This happened, for example, in the floods that hit Palmares, in the southern forest zone of Pernambuco.
Against privatization, it signals the role of market regulator that ECT holds. “When the Post Office plays a value [para a postagem], private enterprise cannot play much higher. In addition, private companies do not reach these cities that I mentioned. When there is a purchase made by another private company, it is posted to the Post Office for delivery. So you can already see that the poorest population, small and micro-entrepreneurs will be severely affected.”
Tenório also points out the strategic role of the Correios for the Union. “It is the Correios that transport the ballot boxes, the school teaching materials, the ENEM exams. An entire land and air postal system would be under the domain of the private sector. Company contracts, closed deals — today the volume of posts that refer to business issues is very high, including issues of the State and national security”, he concludes.
Source: BoF Pernambuco
Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga