UPDATE 2-Brazil seeks additional $7.7 bln with first round of tax hikes
(Adds statement from Petrobras in paragraphs 9-10)
By Nestor Rabello and Guillermo Parra-Bernal
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO Jan 19 (Reuters) - Brazil on Monday announced tax increases on fuel, imports and consumer loans aimed at raising 20.6 billion reais ($7.7 billion) in additional revenues this year, although some economists have warned the measures may boost inflation.
The plan is part of an effort to help balance budget accounts and revive investor confidence, Finance Minister Joaquim Levy said at a news conference. The taxes will help the government collect one-third of the savings it needs to meet debt-reduction goals for the year.
The tax hikes will also reverse fiscal incentives that had been implemented by Levy's predecessor at the Finance Ministry, Guido Mantega, whose policies had been widely criticized by the private sector.
"The main goal of these measures is to boost confidence in the economy," said Levy, who took office at the start of the year. "These measures, taken together, should improve confidence, encourage people to invest in Brazil and take risks."
Yet, the tax hikes are likely to stoke inflation, putting the 12-month trailing number potentially above the official target ceiling of 6.5 percent, and put the brakes on an already sluggish economy, analysts have said.
Levy, who said he is working on other measures to strengthen public finances, declined to say when he will announce potential cuts to this year's budget. Levy has also pledged to curb state intervention by scaling back subsidies to certain industries.
Credit agencies have threatened to cut Brazil's sovereign debt ratings if the government fails to arrest a surge in spending and gross debt. Continuación...