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Government releases names of 54 million emergency salary beneficiaries

. Jun 05, 2020
In an unprecedented move, the Comptroller General's Office, in partnership with the Citizenship Ministry, released the name of 53.9 million Brazilians who have received the BRL 600 emergency salary. Photo: Leonardo Sá/Ag. Senado

In an unprecedented move, the Comptroller General’s Office, in partnership with the Citizenship Ministry, released the name of 53.9 million Brazilians who have received the BRL 600 emergency salary. By accessing the government’s transparency portal, people can look up other people’s information based on their full names or social security numbers. The amounts received by each beneficiary were also made public.

The government is expecting citizens to use the portal to denounce fraud and other inadequacies. It has created a complaint page, and through the “Fique de Olho!” (Keep an Eye) tool, people can snitch on fraudulent beneficiaries. The Federal Accounts Court suspects that over 8 million people might have received the emergency salary — despite not being eligible to.

Norway is also known for adopting a similar policy. Starting in 2001, the country began releasing all citizens’ incomes online — although tax returns were already made public since the mid-nineteenth century. However, becoming hyper-aware of neighbors’, relatives’, and friends’ incomes, might actually have a negative impact on people’s happiness. 

By analyzing Norway’s case, economist Ricardo Pérez-Truglia, an associate professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, concluded earlier this year that “higher transparency in Norway increased the gap in happiness and life-satisfaction between richer and poorer individuals.” Along those lines, another University of California study found in 2012 that knowing co-workers’ salaries has an overall negative outcome.

The government announced the implementation of the policy earlier this week.

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Augusta Saraiva

Augusta is a Brazilian journalism student at Northwestern University

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