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Brazil readies new benchmark BNDES loan rate, Valor says

SAO PAULO, March 15 The Brazilian government is preparing a replacement for the benchmark interest rate that state development bank BNDES uses to peg long-term corporate loans, the latest step toward reducing costly subsidies, newspaper Valor Econômico said on Wednesday.

Senior policymakers will meet on Tuesday to discuss the matter, although there is no deadline to present President Michel Temer with a formal draft, Valor said, without saying how it got the information.

BNDES, the largest source of long-term corporate loans in Brazil, uses the TJLP rate as a benchmark for subsidized loans. Under the current system, BNDES charges the TJLP plus a spread for most disbursements of corporate loans.

For decades, the TJLP rate has run below the benchmark overnight lending rate, partly because of an effort by politicians to boost growth and create jobs. However, the implicit subsidy in these loans cost taxpayers an average 1.5 percent of gross domestic product in each of the past couple of years.

The decision to replace the benchmark is the latest step by the Temer administration to reverse decades of subsidies that have cost taxpayers trillions of reais without a significant effect on long-term growth.

The new system would create a substitute rate that pegs loans to long-term yields on government inflation-linked debt, Valor said. While the TJLP is calculated on a quarterly basis, the new rate benchmark will be set monthly, the paper added.

Under the plan, the TJLP rate will be phased out as loan contracts expire, Valor said.

The central bank and the finance ministry did not have immediate comments. (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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