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Brazil agriculture minister 'frustrated' with lack of ethanol supports

BRASILIA, April 30 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said on Thursday she was “frustrated” that measures to help the country’s ethanol and sugarcane sector have not been announced yet, after predicting supports would be unveiled last week.

Dias repeated her past statements that measures to aid the sector struggling with low fuel prices would include raising the so-called CIDE tax on gasoline and removing the PIS/COFINS federal tax on ethanol.

Revenue has plunged for Brazilian ethanol makers as demand has crashed almost 50% due to lockdowns. Prices for the biofuel have fallen sharply along with gasoline values.

Mills have shifted operations to produce as little ethanol as possible, allocating much more cane to sugar production. This in turn has pressured international prices for the sweetener.

The measures are awaiting approval from the Economy Ministry, she said. Dias said she hoped the ministry would make a decision by Monday, as Friday is a public holiday in Brazil.

“I’m a bit frustrated. I thought when we were going to speak here we were already going to have all the answers,” she said, responding to a question about the ethanol measures on a live webcast.

“The harvest started a few days ago and the cane has to be collected. We need to signal to the sector that we’re going to help.” (Reporting by Jake Spring and Nayara Figueiredo; Editing by David Gregorio)

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