The Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration has spent a total of US$ 6.8 billion (17 billion reais) on Brazilian social programs since taking office in January 2003.
Speaking at the 14th International Seminar on Social Development in Recife, Osvaldo Russos, the head of the secretariat for Social Assistance, pointed out that the new government’s first priority was to unify the country’s many social programs, eliminating overlapping and waste.
“We are implanting a Unified Social Assistance System. The Lula government is making social assistance an effective public policy,” he declared.
Russos cited the Family Voucher (Bolsa Família) program that now reaches 6 million families and will expand to reach 11 million families by the end of 2006.
Also speaking at the seminar, Lena Lavinas, of the Rio de Janeiro Federal University’s Institute of Economy, said that fighting poverty has to go beyond income transfer to include health and education so that social inequality is reduced.