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.

ABr/MP

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