SAO PAULO – The Sao Paulo State Federation of Industries (Fiesp), Brazil’s most influential employers’ group, mounted a protest on Friday against President Michel Temer’s decision to increase taxes on fuels.
The demonstration over the hike in levies on gasoline, diesel and ethanol took the form of giant inflatable yellow ducks outside the Fiesp headquarters on Avenida Paulista in the heart of Sao Paulo’s financial district.
The inflatables were draped in banners reading “I won’t pay for the duck,” a twist on the Brazilian expression “to pay the duck,” which means to be compelled to pay for someone else’s mistake.
Fiesp first introduced the ducks during protests in early 2016 against then-President Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached and removed by Congress in August of last year.
“We are outraged by the announcement of the rise in taxes on fuels,” Fiesp leader Paulo Skaf said in a statement. “It is harmful for society as a whole.”
Temer’s administration said that the hike was “absolutely necessary to preserve austerity and to sustain the Brazilian economy’s course of recovery.”
The tax increase is expected to boost the price of gasoline at the pump by 0.41 reais (13 cents) per liter, or roughly 52 cents a gallon.
Critics say the bump in fuel taxes is likely to result in the prices of other goods by increasing the costs of transportation.
The government projects that the higher taxes will generate an additional 10.4 billion reais ($3.3 billion) in revenue by the end of the year.
“Raising taxes will not solve the crisis, on the contrary, it will make things worse just when economic activity is showing signs of recovery,” Skaf said.
Brazil’s gross domestic product has declined by more than 7 percent over the past two years.