May 20, 2020 / 8:41 PM / 17 days ago

Brazil Economy Minister Guedes has full support of his team: official

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Economy Minister Paulo Guedes wears a protective mask during a news conference after a meeting with President of Brazil's Supreme Federal Court Dias Toffoli, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Supreme Federal Court in Brasilia, Brazil May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s economic team is fully behind Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and his vision for the country, a senior ministry official said on Wednesday, insisting that reducing red tape and the cost of doing business in Brazil will be crucial to kickstarting the recovery.

Guedes’ position and influence as President Jair Bolsonaro’s remaining ‘super minister’ has come under scrutiny, with his intense pro-market approach to the economy seemingly at odds with some in Bolsonaro’s cabinet who favor a stronger government role in steering the recovery.

But speaking on an online live event hosted by local media outlet Jota, productivity and competition secretary Carlos da Costa said Guedes’ policies are the right ones to get Brazil back on track once the coronavirus crisis passes.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, and only God knows the future, but President Bolsonaro has given his unequivocal support to Paulo Guedes,” he said.

“Paulo Guedes grows in times of crisis, combat situations, in situations where energy is needed. I cannot speak for him or anyone else, but I think Guedes is very strong in his position,” da Costa said.

Da Costa also said that getting credit to small businesses is a government priority, and a decree with measures to achieve that, such as using the BNDES national development bank’s ‘FGI’ guarantee fund, will be issued by the end of next week.

Da Costa said he was confident Brazil would be able to take advantage of its record low exchange rate, resume its deregulation drive and lower the cost of hiring workers, which would spur a “re-industrialization” wave.

On tackling the coronavirus crisis, he said Brazil would soon be able to produce up to 1,200 ventilator machines a week, up from 200, and export them within a few weeks. Brazil will have a virus testing capacity of 53 million by year-end, he added.

Reporting by Jamie McGeever and Marcela Ayres; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang

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