Brazil's BNDES (Brazilian Economic and Social Development Bank) hadÂ record investments in the first quarter. The institutions grew by 13% over same period of last year, having totaled around 19 billion Brazilian reais (US$ 8.7 billion).
The performance was driven by the infrastructure sector, with expansion of 21.4% and 6.8 billion reais (US$ 3.1 billion) in funds.
In the accumulated result for the last 12-month period ending in March this year, disbursements by the BNDES were also record-high for the period, having totaled 94 billion reais (US$ 43 billion), growth of 35% over the preceding 12-month period.
The chairman of the BNDES, Luciano Coutinho, said that, based on the figures, "one may already say that the worst part of the international crisis in Brazil is behind us." "I believe that businessmen's expectations are beginning to improve. Entrepreneurs are aware that the Brazilian economy is capable of sustained growth, that the domestic market has potential for expanding and resuming growth this year," he claimed.
To Coutinho, that does not mean that, "as a public banker," he should stop working and putting on an effort. "We must work to sustain economic growth. However, the impression that one has is that, from the perspective of business calculations, things are starting to get better," he said.
The BNDES chairman disagreed with the forecast of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which points to a 1.3% reduction in Brazil this year. "I believe in a positive figure of between 1.5% and 2%. We are going to work for that," he stated.
Coutinho also claimed that the important thing is that a consensus has already been reached that the Brazilian economy should end the last quarter of 2009 and start 2010 with a growth rate of between 3% and 3.5%, "and maybe even 4%. The certainty that economy will grow faster is gaining strength among entrepreneurs."
He forecasted that the infrastructure sector is going to continue expanding. The oil and gas production chain is also expected to "help the economy get back to growth." The same applies to the civil construction industry. He preferred not to celebrate ahead of time, however. "I believe that we must pay much attention and make sure that the economy has the conditions for resuming expansion," said Coutinho.
BNDES disbursements for the industry grew 5% in the first quarter this year, having totaled 7.9 billion reais (US$ 3.6 billion). Luciano Coutinho said that the industrial sectors demanding the least from the bank are those more linked to exports, the highlight being the metallurgical-mineral sector. "The industry is more cautious."
He, however, said that "no one has canceled their investment plans, they have only postponed it."
The figures disclosed by the chairman of the BNDES also show recovery in the line of financing of subsidiary company Finame, for purchases of machinery and equipment, "was stronger than expected. It was quite a surprise, attesting to the vitality of the economy." Disbursements by Finame grew 21.7% from April 2008 to March 2009, having amounted to 22 billion reais (US$ 10 billion).
The superintendent of Indirect Operations at the BNDES, Cláudio Bernardo Guimarães de Moraes, declared that from April onwards, the Finame should free more funds, with the entry into force of an increase in its share in the bank, from 80% to 100%, in financing for large companies. In the past, the share used to by 100%, but was reduced to 80% last year, as a result of rising demand due to scarce credit.