Brazil’s Lula re-launches program known for lifting millions out of poverty
Brasilia, Mar 2 (EFE).- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday re-launched a social welfare program that reduced poverty rates during his first two terms as head of state from 2003 to 2010 and now aims to help some 33 million people put food on the table.
“This is not one government’s or one president’s program. It’s a program (involving) all of society,” Lula said during the launch ceremony in this capital, urging people to use “the press, the municipalities, the unions (to make sure) the money really reaches those who need it.”
He stressed that the Bolsa Familia program “will not solve all of the country’s problems” and said his “biggest challenge is to get the economy growing again, so all workers can earn a living wage.”
The center-left president said that goal can only be achieved if the “state once again becomes the driver of the economic process.”
The new Bolsa Familia program is expected to provide financial aid to around 60 million people (just over 30 percent of the population) and cost 175 billion reais ($33.65 billion), an amount equivalent to roughly 1.5 percent of Brazil’s gross domestic product.
A total of 21 million families will receive 600 reais ($115) in monthly cash transfers, plus 150 reais ($29) per child six years and younger. Families also will receive an additional payment of 50 reais ($9.60) for each child between the ages of seven and 18.
In all cases, however, the aid will be conditioned on children attending school and being current on all vaccinations, including Covid-19.
The government estimates that in most cases the cash transfers will be roughly equivalent to Brazil’s monthly minimum wage of 1,302 reais ($250).
Bolsa Familia was maintained by the administration of Lula’s predecessor, rightist Jair Bolsonaro, although it covered fewer families and eliminated the program’s school and health requirements, as well as other social benefits associated with that initiative.
Lula created the Bolsa Familia program in 2003 during his first term in office; in 2010, his government estimated that it had succeeded in lifting some 40 million people out of poverty.
Many of those individuals, however, have fallen back below the poverty line in recent years.
The main goal now is to eradicate hunger, which afflicted some 33.1 million Brazilians last year, according to official figures. EFE