The regulator of the electricity industry in Brazil, ANEEL, said on Tuesday it is allowing power distributors to borrow so they can delay increases in the prices they charge, which the slump caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has made inevitable.

A written statement issued by the regulator says distributors may ask a syndicate of banks led by state-owned National Bank for Economic and Social Development to lend them up to 16.1 billion reals (about US$3.1 billion) for up to five years.

Borrowing will allow the distributors to increase electricity prices more gradually than otherwise, ANEEL says.

The regulator says the revenues of the biggest distributors in Brazil have dropped by 6.3 percent, on average.

The Reuters news agency reports that among them is CPFL Energia SA, controlled by Chinese state-owned State Grid Corp. of China.