Bolsonaro signs gas subsidy stipend into law

gas canister bolsonaro
Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

Low-income Brazilian families will receive subsidies to cover half of the average amount they spend on cooking gas canisters every two months. The bill, authored by Workers’ Party Congressman Carlos Zarattini, establishes that payments will be made to 19 million families earning up to half the minimum wage, who are already registered on databases for other government aid policies.

For next year, the government intends to reach another 3 million beneficiaries with its new cash-transfer program Auxílio Brasil.

Since the beginning of the year, the price of cooking gas has increased by more than 30 percent and has been one of the main items contributing to Brazil’s ballooning inflation (10.67 percent over 12 months). According to the National Oil Agency (ANP), the average price of a canister is BRL 102.52 — about 10 percent of the minimum wage.

As reporter Amanda Audi showed on The Brazilian Report, many families have resorted to ethanol for cooking — a deadly solution in many cases. Moreover, wood has become the second-leading source of energy in Brazilian households, with 26 percent of households now cooking with logs.

Fearing the electoral repercussions of inflation, President Jair Bolsonaro has tried to scapegoat state governors, asking them to waive state-level taxes on goods and services (ICMS). 

The law published today also establishes that stipends are preferably paid to women heads of households — a common facet of Brazilian aid programs as a way to ensure the money will be spent as intended. However, the government has not yet detailed when the payment will start, as it requires freeing up budget space.