Brazil's privatization czar resigns amid economic slowdown

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s privatization secretary Salim Mattar resigned on Tuesday, economy minister Paulo Guedes said, suggesting he was leaving the government because of the slow pace of privatizations so far, which has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Guedes, who wants to privatize many state-run companies, said he still hopes to privatize state power company Eletrobras ELET6.SA, the postal service known as Correios, the Santos Port Authority and Pré-Sal Petróleo S.A.

Guedes also addressed some legislative proposals that want to increase public spending in Brazil in light of the economic crisis, but said he firmly opposed raising a constitutional cap on spending currently in place.

“If the president wants to be reelected, we have to act within our budget,” he told reporters.

At one point Guedes suggested that right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro could face impeachment if he allowed for the increased spending. He said his economy ministry would not support this measure, even if it gained traction within other parts of the Bolsonaro administration.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito and Isabel Versiani; Editing by Jacqueline Wong