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Investors Praise Brazil President

Dilma's style and decisionmaking talk of the corridors at the World Economic Forum in Rio de Janeiro.

BY JOACHIM BAMRUD

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Local and foreign investors attending the World Economic Forum Latin America are strongly praising Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff.

"She's been very good," Fabio Maceira, CEO of the Brazil operatons of US-based real estate firm Jones Lang Lasalle, told Latin Business Chronicle in the corridors of the forum, which is being held here. "She has a different style than the former president [Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva]. Beacuse she's less populist and less concerned about the impact of some [decisions], she can take unpopular measures like raising interest rates and cutting [expenses]....It's proven that she's there to [govern and] not afraid."

Osvaldo Di Campli, President of the Caribbean and Latin America division of France-based telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent, has been impressed by such events as Rousseff's plans to privatize management of Brazil's top five airports, which was announced Tuesday. "She's bringing in a very pragmatic approach," he says. "Momentum is being sustained."

If Rousseff is able to keep that momentum going  and maintain the accelaration of the economy, business will do well, says Pramod Bhasin, President and CEO of Indian IT firm Genpact.

“I think that she’s a very firm and tough implementer of programs,” says William Rhodes, a senior adviser to Citibank and the author of a new book, Banker to the World. Rhodes, a former senior vice chairman of Citi, has known Rousseff for eight years and praises her performance as energy minister and chief of staff of former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Rhodes also says Rousseff made a wise decision in appointing Antonio Palocci, a former finance minister under Lula, as her chief of staff, and Henrique Meirelles -- the central bank governor under Lula -- as the head of government efforts to prepare for the 2016 Olympics in this city.  

WHAT SHE NEEDS TO DO

However, investors are also hoping Rousseff will implement several key reforms that can make Brazil's business environment better. "I think she will [need to] tackle issues like bureaucracy and the tax regime, " Bhasin says. "It just makes doing business very hard [and] is getting in the way in some cases."

Maceira agrees. "The tax [system] is complicated," he says. "If made more simple, it will be esier to do ...business in Brazil. ...The burden rate is very high and could be reduced."

Brazil has Latin America's worst tax climate, according to the Latin Tax Index from Latin Business Chronicle. the number of hours needed to complay with tax laws is the highest in the world. 

Rhodes singles out infrastructure, eduction, technology and fiscal policies as key challenges facing Rouseff.  However, he praises Central Bank president Alexandre Tombini, who plays  akey role in setting interest rates and fighting inflation.  "Brazil is blassed with three good heads of the central bank," Rhodes says, naming Tombini, his predecessor Meirelles and Tombini's former boss, Arminio Fraga.




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