Bolsa Familia, which was considered a model worldwide, will be replaced by Auxilio Brasil, which leaves many unknowns.
Goodbye to Bolsa Familia after 18 years. The star program with which former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has managed to reduce extreme poverty, food insecurity and inequality in Brazil since 2003, granted its last payment in October.
The program, which made schooling conditions for children, have an up-to-date vaccination record and prioritized women as responsible for financial benefits, was considered a global model in the eradication of poverty.
Now he will be replaced by another, Auxilio Brasil, with which the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro intends to regain his lost popularity. ahead of the 2022 elections, in which it will most likely be measured with Lula.
Ending Bolsa Familia, as well as everything that smelled of leftism, was one of Bolsonaro’s main campaign promises.
However, the pandemic forced him to make a 180º turn to his initial narrative contrary to social programs and launched an emergency aid to the most vulnerable, which also ended this month, again triggering poverty and poverty levels. extreme.
The new program will only be in effect until after the presidential elections in October 2020, which adds uncertainty to 14.6 million families.
With that initiative, the president managed to regain ground lost in the first months of the pandemic due to his denial and poor management of the health crisis.
But then his popularity plummeted again to 22%, its worst level since he came to power, as the pandemic worsened, which has left more than 609,000 dead in the country, and inflation and unemployment skyrocketed. .
With hundreds of impeachment requests and five investigations against him, Bolsonaro was accused by a commission of the Senate of serious crimes, among them, crimes against humanity.
Uncertainty and fiscal risks
The first payment of Auxilio Brasil is scheduled for November 17, but at this point there are uncertainties about its financing and possible fiscal risks.
One of the big differences is that the new program will only be in force until after the presidential elections in October 2020, which adds up to about 14.6 million families that have received Bolsa Familia so far in a sea of unknowns.
“That will generate great insecurity because in December 2022, the Government will find itself again with this dilemma. And with the additional problem that the management [del programa] will be able to change due to the elections (…) whoever is leaving or entering will not have the time to change it, “researcher Manoel Pires recently explained at a round table.
In principle, all the families that benefited from the program created by Lula will be automatically included in it, but thousands of confused Brazilians queue up at the social programs offices looking for some information or trying to register.
It is expected that in December they will benefit 17 million families living in poverty or extreme poverty, 2.4 million more than the current ones, and the government plans to offer 400 reais (about $ 73) per month, compared to 189 reais (about $ 34) for Bolsa Familia.
There will be several conditions to receive the subsidy, including the schooling of minors and adolescents, keeping the vaccination schedule up to date and monitoring the nutritional status of children up to seven years of age.
Modify the “spending ceiling”
In order to carry it out, the Chamber of Deputies approved on Tuesday in a second round a draft constitutional amendment with which the payment of judicial debts that the Executive Power has with third parties and modify the so-called “spending ceiling”, the device that since 2017 limits the expansion of public spending to inflation. The text has to go through the Senate now.
If approved in the Senate, the Government will have about 90,000 million reais (about 16,400 million dollars) from the 2022 budget to finance the Auxilio Brasil program.
Last October, the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, announced that some 5.3 billion dollars could be executed “outside of the spending ceiling.” to promote aid programs direct to the population with the fewest resources.
His statement caused the resignation of senior government officials, a fall in the stock market and a rebound in the dollar against the Brazilian real.
“It borders on cruelty to end a social program of the magnitude of Bolsa Familia, a monetary transfer program considered a model in the world”
For its part, the NGO Oxfam harshly criticized the end of Bolsa Familia and the loopholes that exist in Auxilio Brasil. “It is close to cruelty to end a social program of the magnitude of Bolsa Familia, a monetary transfer program considered a model in the world, without holding a broad public debate with society and concluding the construction of its replacement.”
He also stressed that Auxilio Brasil begins operating in November and still “does not have the fully defined amounts or the guarantee of resources in the Union’s Budget, despite the positive intention to increase the amount to be transferred to families.”
“Once again, the federal government shows your ineptitude and incompetence in the management of public policies, especially those directed at people in vulnerable situations “, he concludes.
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