(Adds details, background throughout)
By Marta Nogueira and Guillermo Parra-Bernal
RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO Jan 5 Brazil's state
development bank BNDES plans to focus loan disbursements on
areas of high social impact from education to healthcare and
infrastructure, taking a first step towards rooting out decades
of cheap financing for large business.
As part of the plan, BNDES will raise the revenue
threshold to classify small and mid-sized firms so they have
preferential access to credit, Chief Executive Officer Maria
Silvia Bastos Marques told reporters in Rio de Janeiro. Other
focus areas include innovation and the environment, she said.
The bank's new lending policy, which Bastos had announced a
few months ago, takes effect later this month.
With the new guidelines, the bank wants to incentivize
companies or projects in those sectors to access credit at a
below-market interest rate known as TJLP, the benchmark for
About 1,500 firms across Brazil could gain additional access
to BNDES loans with the new guidelines, she said.
By giving more access to cheap financing to small- and
mid-sized companies, Bastos is discouraging rampant borrowing by
Brazil's largest firms, which widely enjoyed subsidized credit
during 13 years of left-wing Workers Party administrations that
ended last year.
"We'll be more actively financing projects, to have a
positive impact on what's good for the Brazilian society,"
Bastos said. "This is not about giving out credit just to show
off that 'we're lending some a lot.'"
Since her appointment last May, Bastos has implemented the
most ambitious turnaround of BNDES in two decades while
reversing years of costly support for handpicked local groups.
She has imposed tougher terms for disbursements, asked
BNDES-appointed board members to tighten scrutiny of decisions
at major companies and boosted the bank's role as a guardian of
Bastos argues that an over-reliance on state lenders for
long-term credit had put a heavy burden on BNDES, fanned
regulatory uncertainty and made subsidies costlier than
The TJLP rate that BNDES charges on most loans has for
decades run below the benchmark Selic overnight lending rate,
partly because of an urge by politicians to boost growth and
create jobs. However, the implicit subsidy in the subsidized
loans could cost taxpayers about 1 percent of gross domestic
product this year.
Under the new rules, BNDES will keep financing up to 80
percent of the value of a project. Previously, that limit varied
accordingly with the strategic importance of an industry.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)