Brazil Cuts 5 Million People from Its Popular Social Program Bolsa Família

Since de-facto Brazilian President Michel Temer took office in August 2016, a total of 4,775,301 Family Allowance(Bolsa Família) beneficiaries have been canceled from the program. Another 4,278,690 recipients have had their benefits altered.

The details were compiled and released by Brazil’s Ministry of Social Development.

For its part, the Temer administration cites fraud as being the motive behind the high number of cancellations, particularly those with an income greater than the minimum requirement to receive benefits, according to Brasil 24/7.

An audit conducted by the General Comptroller’s Office, CGU, revealed that some people who own luxury cars and their own homes, as well as public servants, were beneficiaries of the Family Grant program.

Antonio Carlos Leonel, the CGU’s federal secretary of internal regulation, noted that they’re “concerned about cases in which the person entered (the program) incorrectly, or has an excellent standard of living, who is really committing fraud.”

However, observers note that the high number of cancellations were, by far, not restricted to such incidents.

Launched in 2003 during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Family Allowance program provides stipends to families living below the poverty line. In turn, those families must prove that their children are attending school and have been vaccinated.

It was just one of several national programs that helped lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty and remove the country from the U.N. World Hunger Map. When the World Food Program hailed the country as a champion in the fight against hunger, former Social Development Minister Tereza Campello said, “leaving the Hunger Map is a historic milestone for Brazil.”

“We are very proud because overcoming hunger was a priority for the Brazilian state,” she added.

In contrast, Temer’s administration has been marked by austerity measures, a 20-year freeze on public spending, debilitating labor reform and the like.

teleSUR

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  • Joao

    “For its part, the Temer administration cites fraud as being the motive behind the high number of cancellations, particularly those with an income greater than the minimum requirement to receive benefits, according to Brasil 24/7.” If that is the case, it sounds like it’s long overdue.

    • Duff

      The cutoffs occur largely among people earning between R$170 and R$477 per month per capita… in other words, in families that are earning less than half a minimum wage per person per month. (see http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/geral/noticia/2018-01/bolsa-familia-problema-em-cadastro-bloqueia-ou-cancela-2-milhoes-de-beneficios)

      This is *NOT* egregious fraud. For the most part, it’s people who are getting tripped up by paperwork requirements or who are earning just a few reais per month over the income limit for Bolsa Fam.

      In one case that I know personally, in 2013, a young woman was cut off of Bolsa Fam because her husband had found a job and they were now making R$15 per month over the income limit. Before her husband found that job, he had been unemployed and they had spent an entire year on the waiting list for Bosla Fam.

      The search for “fraud” in Bolsa Fam may uncover a few cases of serious misconduct, but for the most part, it’s about pursuing people who need help

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