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Inputs for growth

São Paulo state development agency may get as much as R$ 1 billion to provide support for small and medium-sized companies

São Paulo state governor José Serra will publish, in the next few months, a decree creating the São Paulo State Development Agency. Its implementation depends on approval from the Central Bank. It is expected that the agency will begin operating as from next year, with an initial authorized capital of R$ 1 billion. The agency, which is expected to have five directors, is not going to work only with loans. It will also operate as an intermediary for  transfers from the National Social and Economic Development Bank (BNES – Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social) and the Financer of Studies and Projects (Finep – Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos) and it will encourage, together with private partners, the creation of collateral funds to guarantee the loans to the companies integrated into one of the 34 productive agreements embedded in the state of São Paulo.

“It will be a tool for mobilizing budget funds and loans from federal and international agencies to foster the development of small and medium-sized companies”, explains vice-governor and development secretary Alberto Goldman. The technology-based companies will also be able to benefit from the financing, provided that they are integrated “in some way”, he stresses, with some type of productive agreement, so that the resources may also contribute to stimulating the productive chain’s consolidation. The financing terms are yet to be defined. “This will be an internal decision”.

The priority investment areas have not been defined yet. “We are having studies done in order to evaluate this. It will all depend on the state’s requirements and interests”, explains Goldman. He foresees the studies to be completed next year, coinciding with getting Central Bank approval for the functioning of the agency.

The Nossa Caixa state bank will be in charge of financing and  the distribution of resources . “The bank will guarantee distribution to the institution and reduce costs, allowing the agency to be a small organization, working with a small number of people”, justifies the vice-governor. “The political decisions, however, will be up to the agency.”

Besides inaugurating the development agency’s operations, the vice-governor expects that by 2008 the state of São Paulo will have defined an “action plan” to increase biofuel production, more specifically ethanol. This plan is being prepared by a bioenergy commission that the state government set up in April of this year. It is meant to evaluate the sector’s development outlook, taking into account the evolution of internal supply and demand, access to international markets, technological and commercial barriers, and environmental issues, among others. The idea is to set targets to assure the production, transport, distribution and use of renewable energy sources. “The development agency may fulfill the demand of companies that make the machines and equipment required to produce ethanol”, foresees the vice-governor. “We will be able to use incentive / disincentive tools based on the decisions to be taken by the bioenergy commission.”

The commission, coordinated by José Goldemberg, the state’s former Environment secretary and now a researcher with the Electrical Energy Institute of the University of São Paulo (USP), is comprised of Goldman; the secretaries of Planning Economics, Francisco Vidal Luna, of Sanitation and Energy, Dilma Seli Pena, of Agriculture and Provisioning, João de Almeida Sampaio Filho, of Transport, Mauro Arce, and of the Environment, Francisco Graziano; the scientific director of FAPESP, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz; the former minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues; the president of Única, Marcos Jank; and Isaias Macedo, from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp).