Brazil's senate is holding public consultations before voting on a provisory measure signed recently by President Michel Temer (pictured) introducing new sanitation contract rules that have faced criticism and brought threats of legal action.
The consultations will take place until September 20 and as of Friday morning – through a poll on the senate's website – 7,215 people had voted against the new rules and 874 in favor.
Under the measure, municipal governments will be obligated to consult private sector companies about their interest in service contracts and projects. If they show interest, the local administration will have to open a tender process.
Previously, state-run water utilities had priority access to contracts while private sector companies could compete only for those of no interest to state firms.
The measure is generating huge controversy. Certain interest groups, such as the national association of municipal sanitation services (Assemae), the association of sanitary and environmental engineers (ABES) and the association of regulatory agencies (ABAR), are pressuring lawmakers to reject Temer's measure because, they allege, it will hurt the finances of state water utilities and hence their ability to invest in sanitation projects outside the big cities.
On the other hand, some analysts and business leaders applaud the measure, suggesting that it will attract more private sector investment in sanitation projects.