* Finance Minister Mantega "monitoring" price trends
* Sees evidence of aggressive mark-up in local prices
* Tells Valor "adjustments" may be announced soon
SAO PAULO, Feb 27 Brazil's government may slash
import taxes in industries where local manufacturers are raising
prices aggressively, to try to head off accelerating inflation,
Finance Minister Guido Mantega told newspaper Valor Econômico on
Mantega, who spoke to Valor in New York on the sidelines of
an event, told the newspaper that the government was monitoring
markets where manufacturers marked up prices "exaggeratedly" and
with no apparent justification. He did not name those sectors or
give further details on potential policy actions.
Reuters could not reach spokespeople for the Brasilia-based
finance minister to confirm Mantega's comments to Valor.
Last year, the government raised import taxes for more than
100 items, most of them manufactured goods, to protect the local
industry from cheap imports.
"Now I am warning that we are monitoring the situation and
that we could lower some tariffs," Mantega told the newspaper.
"There are people going too far. In coming days, we might
implement the necessary adjustments."
The minister's remarks underscore the government's
preoccupation with inflation, which is climbing at its fastest
pace in a year. But at the same time, his comments signal that
policy implementation could remain volatile as President Dilma
Rousseff's administration struggles to reignite growth in an
ailing economy and spur investment while still keeping a lid on
In recent weeks, steelmakers have announced a series of
price hikes for some products, such as rolled steel, plates and
slabs. Paper and carton producers as well as petrochemical
companies have also ramped up prices for wholesalers to restore
The government's focus on inflation "is of a permanent
nature," Mantega said, and policymakers are not relaxing their
oversight while the economy fails to grow at satisfactory rates.
He said some inflation measures indicated a "less pressing
outlook" for prices and that the economy was showing signs of a