Bolsonaro Applauded by Brazilian Business as Viable President

(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian entrepreneurs would have nothing against a right-wing government led by the likes of former Army Captain Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s industry chief said in an interview.

Robson Andrade, head of the National Industry Confederation, said Bolsonaro is applauded by business leaders because of his proposal to bring law and order to the country. The head of the influential business lobby also blasted a proposal by the left-wing candidate Ciro Gomes to reverse labor market liberalization approved in 2017.

"We’re not worried about the right. We need a president who is aware of Brazil’s situation and who can put the country on a path of growth," Andrade told Bloomberg News in Brasilia when asked about Bolsonaro. "He was applauded because entrepreneurs liked what he said, especially when he shows authority."

Bolsonaro, an advocate of less restrictions on police’s use of force who denies Brazil’s military rule was a dictatorship, leads opinion polls that exclude Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The former president is currently jailed for corruption and will likely be barred from running in the October presidential election.

Business confidence plunged in June after an 11-day trucker strike weakened President Michel Temer’s business-friendly administration and compounded political uncertainty surrounding the election. Analysts have nearly halved their growth estimates for 2018 after the strike undercut an already slower-than-expected recovery in investments and consumption.

While the populist rhetoric of some candidates is disconcerting, whoever wins the race will have no choice but to cut spending to fix Brazil’s public accounts, including a haircut on pension benefits, said Andrade, who favors privatizing all state-owned companies, including oil giant Petrobras.

Red Tape

Slashing bureaucracy and eliminating legal uncertainty will have to be at the top of the next president’s to-do-list in order to attract investments, Andrade said, citing the legal uncertainty surrounding Lula’s imprisonment and candidacy.

"The country today is unpredictable," he said.

Brazil ranks 125th among 190 nations in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business index. The report places Brazil in 184th place and 176th place for the ease of paying taxes and starting a business, respectively.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.