A compliance officer at Correios, Brazil’s federally-run postal company, left a group of lawyers flabbergasted last week after writing on a compliance-focused WhatsApp group that the firm is seeking to “catalog the main legislation related to postal services and develop a matrix to measure risks.”
“As it is something new, we are looking for learning opportunities with outside parties,” the message read, asking lawyers to continue with information about legislation and risks. Lawyers who showed the messages to The Brazilian Report couldn’t understand how a company which has held a centuries-long monopoly over postal services doesn’t yet have a full understanding of its legal framework.
A second message from another Correios compliance staffer added another layer of embarrassment. “We are working on updating the company’s integrity program. I am thinking of expanding it to a compliance program, encompassing the integrity program. To better support our decision, I would like to know how it works in the market, in general,” he wrote. Several minutes later, the official asked the message to be disregarded, claiming he sent it “by mistake.”
The situation illustrates how hard it will be for the Jair Bolsonaro administration to fulfill its promise to privatize the company and break the postal monopoly. Postal services in Brazil attract much criticism due to their unreliability, high prices, and delays.
As the messages show, however, final user complaints are just the tip of the iceberg of poor management.
Between 2015 and 2017, Correios operated in the red for three consecutive years, amassing losses of BRL 5.5 billion (USD 1 billion). In recent years, after managerial reforms and the e-commerce boom during the pandemic, the state-owned firm started to deliver profits, but not yet enough to pay off its outstanding debt to the Treasury.
Communications Minister Fabio Faria plans to conclude the privatization of Correios in 2022, but the matter is yet to be approved in a Senate vote, which is tricky to achieve in an electoral year. While the House is more favorable to pro-market legislation, senators are typically more careful about economic issues.