“Auxilio Brasil” intended to benefit 17 million families with monthly payments approved in Congress
The massive social welfare program, Auxilio Brasil, promoted by the administration of president Jair Bolsonaro was passed this week in the Lower House and is expected to be approved in the Senate where leaders have promised to address it as a priority.
Auxilio Brasil would double the size of cash welfare payments to poor families in Brazil to 400 reais (US$71.90) monthly and would increase the number of families benefited to 17 million.
It replaces the previous program, the two decades Bolsa Familia, a mainstay of the Workers Party,– now in opposition–, and its leader Lula da Silva.
As with Bolsa Familia, launched to end hunger in Brazil (and collect poor families’ political support), the Bolsonaro government says the measure is needed to help low income Brazilians whose live hoods have been battered by the Covid19 pandemic, and obviously increase his reelection chances next October.
The Auxilio Brasil bill was approved unanimously with 344 votes in favor. To achieve this, the Brazilian congress had first to pass a constitutional amendment, earlier in the month, allowing the government to ignore a spending cap so that it can finance the social welfare payments.
Furthermore, some lawmakers argued it wasn’t enough and wanted the Auxilio Brasil benefits indexed to inflation.