In recent years, fiscal deficits have been a chronic problem for the central government and moststate governments. In 1997, for instance, the nominal deficit was about 6% of GNP. In thisscenario, both central and local governments have been unable to make the necessaryinfrastructure investments to maintain adequate service levels, a situation that has existed sincethe beginning of the 1980s. For instance, investment in ports in 1993 was less than 15% of thefigure in 1980, while in the railway sector investment fell from US$1. 9 billion in 1980 toUS$214 million in 1993 (Cavalcanti Ferreira, 1996).