In a message directed to the Brazilian Congress on Tuesday’s (February 15) inauguration of the annual legislative calendar, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that the government plans to spend US$ 9.918 billion (21.2 billion reais) this year on social programs administered by the Ministry of Social Development.
This total represents US$ 1.59 billion (3.4 billion reais) more than what was spent in 2005 and nearly US$ 4.68 billion (10 billion reais) more than what was allocated to these programs in 2003. The text of the message was read by deputy Inocêncio Oliveira (PL, Pernambuco), first secretary of the governing council of the Chamber, at the opening ceremony on the Chamber floor.
With regard to the Family Grant (Bolsa Família), Lula said that the goal is to benefit 100% of the families that live in conditions of extreme poverty by the end of 2006. The program currently serves 8.7 million families, 77% of which subsist below the poverty line.
"If the Family Grant is designed to combat extreme poverty right now, it is up to education to create opportunities for the future, above all for young people," the President observed, in a reference to Congressional approval of the constitutional amendment bill (PEC) that creates the Fund for the Maintenance and Development of Basic Education (FUNDEB).
The FUNDEB substitutes the Fund for the Maintenance and Development of Fundamental Education and Valorization of the Teaching Profession (FUNDEF).
"With the contribution made by the Congress in debating and approving the FUNDEB, education can expect to receive an additional US$ 9.82 billion (21 billion reais) as of 2006," he said.
Among the priority items to be considered by the legislature this year, the president highlighted the National Food and Nutritional Security System, the National Basic Sanitation Policy, the organization and social control of regulatory agencies, the National Bioethics Council, and the Brazilian System for the Protection of Competition.
He also mentioned the passage of the bill that raises the monthly minimum wage to US$ 163.74 (350 reais).
"The worker, who will receive a more dignified minimum wage, gains, but the country as a whole also gains, through the US$ 7.02 billion (15 billion reais) that will stoke the economy thanks to the increased purchasing power of a significant portion of the Brazilian population," said the Brazilian President.