Brazil’s Zero-Misery Plan Gets US$ 12.6 Bi a Year to Lift 16 Million

Brazil Zero-Misery Plan Brazil Without Misery (Plano Brasil sem Miséria) was launched this Thursday by the administration of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and should provides for millions of people to be rescued from abject poverty in 3 years.

The annual budget of Plano Brasil sem Miséria will receive 20 billion reais (US$ 12.6 billion). In an initial stage, the funds will come from the National Treasury.

However, the Brazilian minister of Social Development, Tereza Campello, claimed that states and non-government organizations should also invest in the program. The plan provides for 16 million people to be rescued out of abject poverty by 2014.

“These are federal government funds. The 20 billion reais comprise both the Programa Bolsa Família (Family Allowance) and its expansion,” said the minister. Bolsa Família is the main income transfer program of the Brazilian government.

During the implementation phase, the program should also get 1.2 billion reais (US$ 758 million) in additional credit. The bill that provides for the complementary funds to be added to the 2011 Budget has been submitted by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, to the National Congress.

“It should cap off a series of actions that included the expansion of Bolsa Família, the building of cisterns and the hiring of technical assistance teams,” said the minister.

Plano Brasil Sem Miséria aims to raise the per capita family income of families living with up to 70 reais (US$ 44) a month, as well as increase access to public services, to citizenship actions and to the opportunities generated by public policies and projects.

According to the minister, the US$ 44 figure was established considering the definition of abject poverty of the Bolsa Família and international organizations. According to the minister, there are approximately 800,000 families eligible to receive funds under Bolsa Família that do not yet. “We are cross-referencing the data to find these families and cater to them.”

The plan will be presented in all Brazilian states. According to Tereza Campello, the program will be monitored and target-based. “For some of these actions, we have a highly organized schedule. We have implemented actions involving active search, but other actions are going to take a while. We are launching a process of building pacts and cooperation.”

The “Brazil Without Misery” program is the signature policy of the former guerrilla’s first term, her advisers said, fulfilling one of the key promises she made in her campaign for the presidency last year.

Poorer voters, millions of whom benefited from rapid economic growth and an expanded anti-poverty program under former President Lula da Silva have become the main electoral base for Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.

The announcement of the new program in the capital Brasília was a welcome relief for Rousseff following weeks of negative media coverage over a scandal that has tainted her chief of staff and exposed differences with her main coalition ally, the PMDB party.

The success of the Bolsa Família family stipend program under Lula da Silva, which helped lift about 20 million people into a thriving lower middle class, showed that cutting poverty was a crucial part of Brazil’s economic success, Rousseff said at a ceremony in the capital.

“Brazil proved to the world that the best way to grow is distributing wealth,” she said, flanked by her troubled chief of staff Antonio Palocci and Vice President Michel Temer of the PMDB in an apparent show of unity.

Despite the strides Brazil has made in recent years, with brisk growth rates that have pushed it up the ranks of the world’s largest economies, it still faced a “crisis” of poverty that was more serious than any financial crisis, she said.

“We can’t forget that the most permanent, challenging and harrowing crisis is having chronic poverty in this country”. Brazil figures in the short list of Western countries with the worst income distribution.

The new program aims to raise 16.2 million people above the level of extreme poverty through a multi-pronged approach of expanded financial aid, improved education, access to water and energy, as well as job training.

The Bolsa Família program, which gives a monthly stipend to families based on their children’s school attendance, will be expanded to another 800,000 families, officials said.

The program, which has been praised by the World Bank and copied by other developing countries, already reaches more than a quarter of Brazil’s 190 million population.



  • Show Comments (3)

  • Oliver

    Third World Taxation
    I really agree with you, maybe not entirely, since these programs ARE of great benefit, but Brazil kinda takes the wrong turn when dealing with internal growth.

    The country still occupies a spot in the list of 5 nations with the heaviest taxation in the world! And no noticeable reforms have been made so far. Products which (after much insistence from a minority of the government) are labeled as “needs”, such as milk or meat, have specific laws added to waive them from some of the taxes. That’s how computers came to be sold cheaper in the country, even though the quality:Price ratio is still ridiculous when compared to developed countries.

    The daily consuming life of an average Brazilian makes it almost unexplainable how Brazil still has internal growth:

    Starting the day with a trip to the supermarket, Brazilians struggle to buy even the simplest daily “luxuries” such as a box of cereals or a bottle of orange juice: no matter how enormous the country’s capacity of production is, these goods will still cost at least three times as much as in the US.

    Now let’s say our average Brazilian wants to build a home office, so he goes to the mall where he finds a “good” deal: 1,000R$ for a LOCALLY PRODUCED laptop which would cost about 300 dollars in the US!
    Besides the laptop he also wants to buy a wireless router, but the cheapest one is 180R$! And let’s remember that we’re talking about a person who earns in Reais and spends in Reais, so spending 180R$ in Brazil feels a lot like spending 180U$ in North America!
    Besides the router and the laptop, he wants to buy a chair and a desk. Well, for some strange reason the simplest wheeled chair will cost him about 200R$ and the desk that fits his needs is 300R$!
    Conclusion, he’ll probably only buy the laptop for now, splitting it into 12 monthly payments of 93,33R$ (interest!) on his credit card, and he better forget that All-Star he was staring at because it’ll cost him another 200 of his hard-earned Reais![laughs]

    Finally, when the end of the month comes, and our hero wants to buy himself a ride, I hope he’s been saving money for a while because a “popular” car in Brazil, even when striped of basics such as A/C and automatic transmission, will still cost some 24,000R$!

    Taxes here are so incomprehensible that taxation on products made in Brazil usually equal those imposed on imports, which where supposed to protect our industry, getting to the point where imported goods can actually be cheaper then national ones.

    In my opinion, Brazil’s market thrives out of stubbornness, and, if the country does not pay twice as much attention on reforming it’s taxation, interest, and internal grow policies as it pays on social programs, the last could be disastrous, as the smallest shift on economy could send any state-dependent lower middle class right back into despair.

  • Ferdinand

    Another socialist future failure
    This is just another stupid socialist program to reward laziness that will fail. Brazilian taxes are among the highest in the world. Most of the economy depends on government orders. The dream of the middle class youth is to become a civil servant because the market is already concentrated on the companies that supply the state, all the others having been absorbed by the big ones. In fact what we see in Brazil is the beginning of a national-socialist economy. More taxation to keep these programs working will mean the destruction of the free market in the country. You dont fight poverty with state-sponsored alms but with creating conditions for the free market to fully develop.

  • Ralf Voellmer

    Great article.

    Brazilian programs of the last several years have proved quite successful. The broad impact of the growth there is admirable, and should produce long-term benefits for the whole country. It is also important to look at other indicators. For example life expectancy, which is a good proxy for quality of life.

    We did an analysis of life expectancy throughout the whole world for the last 200 years. You can find it here:

    If you highlight Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, you can see that despite intermittent reversals, Argentina and Chile have been getting closer to the high end of life expectancy vis-a-vis the advanced countries. It is also clear that Brazil is catching up to Argentina and Chile in this measure, with a narrowing of this gap in the last 10 years. This corresponds with GDP per capita, which is related to poverty and its elimination.

    Brazil’s overall approach seems to be working, and well.

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