A maneuver by allies of former São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin and current governor, João Doria, both from the PSDB, stopped the installation of a CPI (Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry) in the Legislative Assembly, which would investigate suspicions of corruption related to the administrations tucans.
Awaiting installation since 2019, when Doria took over the government, the CPI of Dersa (state of São Paulo for highways) was scheduled to start at the beginning of this year.
A questioning (an instrument formally called a question of order) presented by state deputy Campos Machado (Avante), Alckmin’s supporter, and still unanswered by the president of the House, Carlão Pignatari (PSDB), close to Doria, prevented the CPI from being created until now.
The CPI could have been constituted by Pignatari at least since April, according to the regiment of the House — which was not done by the toucan.
Only on August 7 did the president install three of the five CPIs planned for 2021, but Dersa’s and another commission on charging rent in irregular housing were hampered by the question of order presented by Campos Machado days earlier, on August 3rd.
Wanted by sheet, Campos Machado did not manifest himself. In plenary, he said he made the questioning for “absolute absence of determined fact” in the two CPIs.
“‘Investigating improbity and illegalities’ in ‘bids and contracts’, ‘in these road works’, undoubtedly do not show us any concrete, precise or established fact,” said Machado in the document filed with the presidency of the House.
Pignatari has, according to the regulations, 60 days to respond to the questioning, which would make it possible for the CPI to advance. Another point of order raised this year on a relevant issue in the House, the suspension of Fernando Cury (Citizenship) for having groped Isa Penna (PSOL), was resolved by the president in seven days.
Dersa’s CPI application, presented by then Deputy Beth Sahão (PT) in 2019, provided for the analysis of possible irregularities practiced by public agents that “caused fraud in state government tenders and contracts”.
These public agents, says the application, are suspected of diverting “public resources, using front companies to launder resources from contractors in these road works, through the performance of Mr. Paulo Vieira de Souza, former director of Dersa , in the period from 2007 to 2019″.
Paulo Vieira, who was engineering director at Dersa during the José Serra (PSDB) administration, is better known as Paulo Preto. He has already been denounced five times by the Federal Public Ministry on charges of irregularities and deviations in public works.
There are also suspicions of irregularities in the northern section of the Rodoanel, whose work began in 2013, under the Alckmin administration, and has not yet been completed.
Paulo Preto’s successor in Dersa’s Engineering Directorate at the time was Pedro da Silva, who became a defendant on charges of fraud in the bidding process and ideological falsehood. Both Paulo Preto and Pedro da Silva deny having committed irregularities.
According to the regulations of the Assembly, the CPIs are established in the order in which they are filed, and only five can function at the same time — there can be a sixth, if approved in plenary. Each commission has a maximum duration of 180 days.
In February, at the beginning of the legislative year, the then president Cauê Macris (PSDB) created the five commissions, but from then on the deadlines were not followed.
Pignatari replaced Cauê in March. After the inauguration of the new board of directors, on the 15th of that month, the party leaders had to nominate the members of the commissions within 15 days — the composition of the CPIs obeys the proportion of the benches.
After this period, if there is no nomination by the parties, the bylaws state that the president must nominate the members of the commission immediately, observing proportional representation.
Pignatari did not follow the norm, delaying the functioning of Dersa’s CPI and others. The president only formed part of the CPIs in August — the same month in which Campos Machado acted to delay two of them even more.
Sought, the office of the president of the House says in a note that the CPI of Dersa was not constituted because it received a point of order “which is under analysis by the technical team of the House.”
It also says that it did not install the CPIs immediately, as per the bylaws, because “there was an agreement for the party leaders to appoint the members of the CPIs, which happened earlier this semester.”
The leader of the PSDB, Analice Fernandes, says she had nominated the toucan members, in March, for all the CPIs.
Deputy Paulo Fiorilo (PT) states that the party has questioned the Board of Directors about the delay in installing the CPI of Dersa and is considering, like what happened in Brasília for the installation of the CPI of Covid, to resort to the Judiciary.
“There is no way out. It is absurd that the CPIs have not been installed, especially Dersa, to bring important information, which has been denied so far, about a historical corruption scheme,” he says.
Dersa’s CPI was a priority for PT members right after Doria took office, and the toucans mobilized to stop it.
In 2019, PSDB advisors took turns for 63 hours in a line inside the House to request other investigation committees ahead, since the order of installation is the order of protocol. At the time, the leader of the government was Pignatari.
That year, the Assembly approved a project sent by the Doria government for the extinction of Dersa. For bureaucratic reasons, however, the state-owned company is still in the process of being liquidated.
Of the five CPIs planned for 2021, four were proposed by the PT, which is traditionally the main opposition party to the toucans from São Paulo, and one is authored by deputy Marcos Zerbini (PSDB) – which would investigate charging rent in occupations and was also the target of Ax fields.
The last CPI authored by PT members in the São Paulo Legislative was completed in March 2015 and was not directed at the government — it dealt with prank calls at universities.
The three opposition CPIs created in August deal with the licensing of underwater caves in the estuary between the cities of Santos and Cubatão, violence committed against women and tax benefits granted by the government in the last decade.
There was still no meeting to define who will chair them and start the work. The regulations of the Assembly provide for five days for the oldest member to call the first meeting, which has not been done so far.
The paralysis of the CPIs in the Legislative of São Paulo occurs amid the increase in funds distributed by Doria revealed by sheet.
The PT itself, last year, discussed trying to get approval in the plenary of a CPI on the amendments paid by the governor, but did not mobilize for this. After the publication of the series of reports, only deputy Carlos Giannazi (PSOL) asked for the installation of a commission on the subject.
So far, nine deputies, in addition to him, have signed: Paulo Fiorilo (PT), Raul Marcelo (PSOL), Janaina Paschoal (PSL), Colonel Telhada (PP), Gil Diniz (no party), Major Mecca (PSL), Conte Lopes (PP), Castello Branco (PSL) and Erica Malunguinho (PSOL). 32 signatures are required for the protocol.
Deputies have said that the lack of face-to-face sessions, due to the pandemic, undermines the work of the CPI — but last year there were CPIs successfully conducted in videoconference sessions.
Another relevant case in the House, the suspension of Cury, was also processed this year virtually in the Ethics Council and in the plenary, with the participation of the majority of deputies.
“The CPI can work in the pandemic. The Assembly is moved by the pressure of public opinion,” says Carlos Giannazi (PSOL), who sees government maneuvers to bury Dersa’s CPI.
“The government has always made these maneuvers to hinder and delay the formation and operation of a CPI. This is historic, it has been a practice. And, when the CPI is installed, the government controls it with a majority of members, as in the CPI of the Meals, which ended up coming to nothing.”
Another CPI harmful to the government — which was installed, but did not start working — is about possible irregularities in the granting of tax benefits. The commission would have the objective of inspecting the R$115 billion revenue waiver in ten years.
Several tax benefits are under wraps, which has generated criticism over several years from members of the TCE (State Audit Court) during the analysis of government accounts.
At the end of last year, Doria reduced some of these tax benefits in a bill approved by the Assembly. The approval of the controversial package, according to lawmakers, motivated the distribution of political funds to lawmakers.
The government leader, Vinicius Camarinha (PSB), claimed not to know the reasons for the delay in installing the CPIs and stated that this is a prerogative of the president of the House. Asked about Pignatari being protecting Doria from an investigation into Dersa, Camarinha denied it.
“I don’t think he’s doing it and I wouldn’t even have reason to. The governor has nothing to fear from any CPI. The governor has been in office for almost three years without any scandal or corruption. We’re not going to stop any CPI. install tomorrow,” he said.
Wanted by the report, Alckmin did not respond.