Rising poverty could damage Brazil’s development

. May 07, 2018
brazil poverty Poverty levels have been up in Brazil.
brazil poverty

Poverty levels have been up in Brazil.

On the eve of Labor Day, Brazilian President Michel Temer appeared on television to congratulate the country’s workers. In a four-minute speech broadcast on television at 8:30 p.m. on April 30, Temer also made two brief announcements: that he was working on a new minimum wage project, and that he would adjust the budget of the poverty alleviation program Bolsa Família.

Bolsa Família is a conditional cash transfer program created by the first Lula government in 2003, and is credited with lifting approximately 36 million Brazilians out of poverty. Its main beneficiaries were Brazil’s historically poorer North and Northeast regions, which accounted for 25.8 percent and 28.4 percent of all recipients respectively, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IGBE).

After Temer’s speech, the Ministry for Social Development announced that Bolsa Família would receive a 5.67 percent raise to account for inflation. Although this is the eighth time the program has been adjusted for inflation since its introduction, it is the second time that Temer has adjusted it in just under two years as president.

</p> <p>“We have made a real improvement in the programs linked to our portfolio, with revisions in INSS benefits, such as sickness benefits, and in Bolsa Família itself,” said Alberto Beltrame, Minister for Social Development. “The actions allowed more people to enter the program. In addition, we reset the queue and increase the value of the benefit.”</p> <p>In 2017, the government’s budget for the program was 28.9 billion BRL, for approximately 13.8 million families across the country. This new adjustment increase will mean the average monthly stipend received by families will increase by just 10.08 BRL, from 177.71 BRL to 187.79 BRL.</p> <p>However, the accumulated National Index of Consumer Prices from July 2016 until March 2018 was 4.01 percent – meaning that the government would need to increase the budget by some 684 million BRL in order to properly account for inflation. The adjustment appears even more meager in comparison to Temer’s previous adjustment of 12.64 percent.</p> <p>However, this fits with the pattern of the government’s slow decline in funding Bolsa Família and its 2018 budget of 28.8 billion BRL. Until recently, Bolsa Família was almost untouchable. But as the election draws closer, Brazil’s new brand of ultra-conservative politicians are <a href=";mc_eid=bf40b540d3">beginning to show disdain</a>.</p> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="dd046a3e-1006-44c6-bd24-8c415fe2ad3f" data-type="interactive"></div><script>!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//");</script> <h3>Limited progress towards Agenda 2030 goals</h3> <p>The newest values represent a 13-percent fall since the height of the program’s values, four years ago under Dilma Rousseff. However, resources destined to the cash transfer program have fallen consecutively since 2015.</p> <p>Additionally, Temer’s administration has been removing families from the program – in some cases without warning. Since he assumed office in May 2016, approximately 5.2 million families have stopped receiving payments from Bolsa Família after government checks found that they no longer met the requirements. However, the government defends these actions, saying that it has allowed them to move 4.8 million recipients from the waiting list onto the program.</p> <div class="infogram-embed" data-id="bb18b73e-e56b-4f5a-881e-4e4dc9bc1c71" data-type="interactive"></div><script>!function(e,t,s,i){var n="InfogramEmbeds",o=e.getElementsByTagName("script"),d=o[0],r=/^http:/.test(e.location)?"http:":"https:";if(/^\/{2}/.test(i)&&(i=r+i),window[n]&&window[n].initialized)window[n].process&&window[n].process();else if(!e.getElementById(s)){var a=e.createElement("script");a.async=1,,a.src=i,d.parentNode.insertBefore(a,d)}}(document,0,"infogram-async","//");</script> <p>According to the Abrinq Foundation, a children’s charity that works with social and economic issues facing Brazil’s children and young people, more than 40 percent of Brazilians under the age of 14 years old still live in poverty. And out of the 17.3 million in total, 5.8 million of these children live in extreme poverty.</p> <p>The NGO’s latest report reaffirms that Brazil’s youth are vulnerable to poverty and its consequences, susceptible to child labor, incomplete educations, and violence. As with overall poverty rates, the North and Northeast regions continue to present the worst results: respectively, they have 54 percent and 60 percent of children living in poverty, in comparison to the national average of 40.2 percent.</p> <p>Brazil is unlikely to meet the targets set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals without more investment in public policies that target more economically vulnerable populations, according to Heloisa Oliveira, executive manager of the Abrinq Foundation.</p> <p>“If you look at where poverty intersects with age, you will realize that among the poorest population, there is an even larger contingent of children and adolescents,” she told <em>Agencia Brasil</em>. “This is an important point which highlights how vulnerable children are to poverty.”</p> <p>But Brazil fits part of a regional pattern, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL). The non-profit says that poverty is on the rise across Latin America and the Caribbean, with187 million in poverty and 62 million in extreme poverty during 2017.</p> <p>Regional unemployment also rose to 22.8 million in 2016, and affected more women and minorities – Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples – than men. Overall, CEPAL’s latest annual report on progress and regional challenges for Agenda 2030 found that Latin America and the Caribbean is continuing on its trajectory as the world’s most unequal region.</p> <p>“In the coming years, with the uncertainties still remaining about the performance of the world economy and in the light of the recent low dynamism of the region (growth rates are around 1%), the challenge of meeting the goals of sustainable development becomes more difficult,” the report concludes.</p> <p>Alice Bárcena, CEPAL’s executive secretary, warned that inequality remained a huge barrier for the region. “Inequality is the face of privilege,” she <a href="">said</a>, presenting the research at CEPAL’s seat in Chile. “The culture of privilege is what makes and naturalizes inequality. And that is what has to be broken.”

Ciara Long

Based in Rio de Janeiro, Ciara focuses on covering human rights, culture, and politics.

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