Bolsonaro will allocate up to 7.5 billion dollars to social spending less than three months before the elections in Brazil | International
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The Government of Jair Bolsonaro will multiply social spending with less than a hundred days to go before the elections. He will do so after his allies in the National Congress managed to modify the Constitution to be able to create new social benefits at this time, something that until now was prohibited by law precisely to avoid vote buying. Parliamentarians decreed a “state of emergency” in order to circumvent fiscal and electoral laws and open the tap in Brazil.
Thus, the Government will be able to spend 41.2 billion reais (more than 7.5 billion dollars). The aid received by the poorest will increase by 50% and will reach 600 reais per month (109 dollars). In addition, the number of beneficiaries is increased, reaching more than 20 million families. Specific aid is also created to buy gas cylinders and for truck drivers to see compensation for the rise in fuel prices. In the latter case, the subsidies will be 1,000 reais per month (182 dollars) and will benefit more than 870,000 drivers. The aid will only be valid until December, two months after the elections end.
The text went ahead by a large majority (469 deputies voted in favor and only 17 against). The opposition as a whole voted in favor, knowing that they may be helping to boost Bolsonaro’s popularity. Placed between a rock and a hard place, parliamentarians from the left argue that voting against it would have been voting against the most vulnerable, at a time when more than 33 million people are going hungry in Brazil.
With the new aid, Bolsonaro’s popularity is expected to soar. Putting money in people’s pockets has an almost immediate effect. It already happened at the beginning of the pandemic. Bolsonaro was at his worst, he launched the aid program ‘Auxilio Brasil’ (forced by Congress, since he was reluctant) and the number of his detractors fell sharply in the following months.
Now Bolsonaro is in a more delicate and urgent situation. Former President Lula da Silva has a clear lead in all the polls, with some showing the leader of the left could win even in the first round. However, it is very likely that the distance will be shortened in the coming months, as the aid begins to be noticed.
The Workers’ Party (PT) campaign knows this and is already working to counteract that impact, reinforcing the idea that Lula is the true “father of the poor” and that Bolsonaro is an opportunist. “Bolsonaro’s aid only lasts until December, when the elections are over he leaves you stranded,” says one of the first videos released by the party on social media in reaction to the aid package.
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In addition to the electoral effect, these new assistance programs will leave a significant fiscal hole that the government that comes out of the October elections will have to manage. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, who months ago called the “kamikaze” proposal due to the imbalance it would generate in public accounts, said this week that “there will be no fiscal impact in 2022.” This is the fifth time that the Bolsonaro government breaks the so-called “expenditure ceiling,” the country’s main fiscal rule, which limits spending growth to the previous year’s inflation.
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