Time to Share the Wealth in Brazil


Time to Share the Wealth in Brazil

José Dirceu, Chief of Staff of the Lula
administration, says that

everybody in Brazil is determined to
work to reduce social,
cultural, and political inequalities. According to him, Brazil is
living proof that
growth is not enough to solve the problems of
the poor because the country grew 7 percent a year for
30 years.

by:
Nelson
Motta

 

The head of the Presidential Civilian Advisory Staff, Minister José Dirceu, said, at the closing of the International
Conference to Discuss Policies for Implementing the Goals of the Millennium, that what Brazil is doing "is trying to run against time."

To explain his declaration, Dirceu gave as an example the experience of Lula’s Administration, which already
demonstrates that socio-political time does not wait for economic time. "Those whose rights are abused and disrespected, those
who lack the right of access to wealth, who don’t participate in development and the creation of wealth, don’t wait," the
Minister said.

The Minister insisted on reaffirming the determination of everybody in Brazil to work to reduce social, cultural, and
political inequalities. "This question is more serious in Brazil than in any other country in Latin America, because Brazil is rich,
is an industrialized country with technological capacity, in lands that are fertile like no other country, with natural
resources like no other country, as well as biodiversity. Brazil is living proof that growth is not enough, because this country grew
7 percent a year for 30 years," Dirceu affirmed.

Great social and political advances were achieved, Dirceu said. He cited the example of the consolidation, year by
year, of democratic institutions, even given the long road that still exists. He recalled that the government has placed judicial
reform and the reform of the country’s political institutions on the agenda.

"To grow with income distribution. That is the great challenge, to have a national development project, a project of
economic, political, and socio-cultural development with social inclusion. I believe that the force of President Lula’s leadership in
Brazil and the world emanates mainly from this militant action his entire life. The fight for social inclusion, the fight against
poverty and misery, and the democratic commitment," Dirceu emphasized.

In his speech, the Minister told the 26 representatives from Latin American and Caribbean countries that he believes
that "the dominant classes, made up of entrepreneurs, segments of the elite, principally the segments that have been on easy
terms with different forms of government over the last 20 years, that many of our countries have already reached the
conclusion that there will be no democracy, peace, or economic growth without the questioning of poverty and misery, without
social inclusion."


Lula’s Assessment


A few days earlier, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had addressed the same Conference saying that Brazil had
been successful in recent decades in some goals to eradicate poverty, among them, "the drop in the infant mortality rate, a
significant rise in fundamental school enrollment, and an effective policy to combat Aids."

Despite these advances, the President remarked that "one is forced to confess that islands of progress in a scenario
that stifles development have limited impact on the dynamic of diminishing inequality." For him, "the only effective
response to extreme poverty is a society that doesn’t generate exclusion."

Lula also said that the government will invest R$ 3 billion (US$ 1 billion) in the area of basic sanitation in 2004 with
extra funds from this year’s surplus, as well as an addition R$ 3 billion in resources from the Federal Savings Bank and the
Workers Compensation Fund (FGTS).

According to the President, the total represents 20 times what was spent in 2002. He emphasized that R$ 42 billion
would be required to make basic sanitation universal, and he called on the private sector to participate in the Public/Private
Partnerships project, "to build an infrastructure capable of guaranteeing a new cycle of development."

Lula reaffirmed that "Brazil does not want to abdicate development, nor can it, nor will it." And he added that, given
its commitment to overcoming poverty and misery, and given the narrowing of external alternatives and Brazil’s
unwavering adherence to stability, the government chose the path that consolidates a view of the world and sediments an historical
cycle, which for the government means transparent, sovereign, and just negotiations.

According to Lula, this signifies that the resumption of development by poor countries is not a one-sided equation.
Brazil has labored "incessantly," the President added, to consolidate alliances and partnerships that will allow poor nations to
recover the freedom to decide their own fate and, consequently, their development.

The International Conference on the Development Goals of the Millennium in Latin America and the Caribbean
proposed to evaluate the challenges posed for governments, civil society, and international organizations to implement the eight
objectives approved by 189 countries in the United Nations General Assembly in 2000.

The objectives are the following: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reducing them in half by 2015; to achieve
universal basic education; to promote equality between the sexes and autonomy for women; to reduce infant mortality; to improve
maternal health; to combat HIV-Aids, malaria, and other diseases; to guarantee environmental sustainability; and to establish a
global partnership for development.


Poor Quality of Life


The quality of life in Brazil improved considerably between 1992 and 2002, but there is still much to do, especially
in the Northeast, where the population continues to suffer from the lack of basic sanitation. The level of schooling is the
lowest in the country, women have more children, and salaries are lower than anywhere else in the country. These are
conclusions of the National Sample Survey of Residences (PNAD-2002), released last month by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of
Geography and Statistics).

The president of the Institute, Eduardo Nunes, said that greater investments are needed in housing, education, and
basic sanitation policies to improve the quality of life of the population. Nunes points out that social inequalities are
aggravated by the high indexes of income concentration. "The Gini index, which measures income concentration, reveals that, in
2002, income concentration is still extremely high in Brazil, placing the country in one of the worst situations in comparison
with other countries," the president of the IBGE added.

The female presence in the job market has also been growing, but men continue to receive higher salaries. The
PNAD-2002 also highlights the high rate of growth in the number of residences with fixed-line or cell phones and the presence
of personal computers.

Between 1980 and 2000, social exclusion increased 11 percent in Brazil. During these two decades, the number of
excluded people grew from 51 million (42.6 percent of the population) to 80 million (47.3 percent). These data are contained in
the Atlas of Social Exclusion in Brazil – 2, which discloses the ranking of the states and the evolution of exclusion in the
country between 1960 and 2000. Unemployment and violence are the principal factors behind the growth in exclusion.
Education was the only sector in which progress occurred.

 

Nelson Motta works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government.
Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br

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