Brazilians will not
be able to explain to future generations why
the people who instigated the Plan Real leap forward through
monetary stability did not succeed in doing the same to eliminate
the poverty in which more than 50 million Brazilians live. Little
has been done in 10 years. We need a Social Plan Real.
This month Brazil commemorated the tenth anniversary of the monetary Plan
Real and the first 18 months of the Lula Government.
Although apparently unconnected,
these two facts are related.
We need to recognize that
the Plan Real is an example of a program that Brazil demonstrated to the world.
After 30 years of inflation deep-rooted in the Brazilian social fabric, we
broke through the inertia and attained a stability that would have been impossible
to imagine only a short time ago.
We also need to recognize
that little has been done in these ten years to establish a Social Plan Real.
A plan that would carry to the Northeast an economic standard equal to the
rest of the country, put all children in school, assure teachers dignified
remuneration, and promote an employment program guaranteeing housing, running
water, and plumbing to Brazilians living in the poor regions.
These ten years have seen
advances in school enrollment but we still have 1.5 million children out of
school and only 40 percent completing their high school education. We have
made great advances in healthcare, but these are insufficient when compared
with the success of the monetary plan.
I am drawing an analogy
between the ten years of the Plan Real and the 18 months of the Lula government.
During the first eight and a half years of the Plan Real, there were no significant
advances in social services. We must acknowledge, however, that the Fernando
Henrique government established the Bolsa-Escola on a national level, but
with an insignificant amount of money, and that a program existed to combat
child labor and child prostitution, although in a very timid manner.
Likewise, after 18 months
of the Lula government, we must admit that we have still not made the necessary
leap forward in the area of social services. We still have not created the
Plan Real against poverty and in favor of social services.
We made progress when,
during the discussions of the minimum wage, we agreed to incorporate the objectives
that would administer a social shock to Brazil into the LDO (Lei de Diretrizes
OrçamentáriasBudget Guidelines Law), the federal budget
The Federal Government
has made a commitment to send the Senate a program creating the Elementary
Education Development Fund and set a Salary Floor for the teacher. Included
in the LDO social shock proposal is the hiring of 500 thousand workers for
the water and plumbing projects to aid the poor populations of Brazil, as
well as a program setting goals for the abolition of child labor and child
While the previous government
implemented the Eradication of Child Labor Program and the Bolsa-Escola (School
Grant), we must recognize, as the responsible opposition, that this was done
on an insignificant level.
We also need to say with
critical loyalty that, in the present situation, our government has not make
a greater leap forward than that made by President Fernando Henrique’s administration.
The social shock inserted
into the LDO is one step, albeit a timid one. It will not be possible to explain
to future generations why the people who instigated the Plan Real leap forward
through monetary stability did not succeed in doing the same to eliminate
the poverty in which more than 50 million Brazilians live.
The National Congress
also must assume its responsibility by launching the idea of a Social Plan
Real, so that Brazil will do with poverty and with social services that which
it did with the currency.
We need to transform the
approval of the budget into an act of true civic guerrilla warfare, maintaining
fiscal balance, guaranteeing another ten years of the Plan Real, and ensuring
in the next 18 months of the Lula Government clear guidelines and the resources
necessary to change Brazil.
Cristovam Buarque – firstname.lastname@example.org
– has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PT senator for the Federal District
and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education
from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome – LinJerome@cs.com.