House passes bill making Bolsonaro’s aid program permanent

Bolsonaro aid program permanent
People in Santa Barbara, Bahia, enrolling for the government’s Auxílio Brasil program. Photo: Joa Souza/Shutterstock

By a 418-7 majority, Brazilian lawmakers approved a presidential decree turning the Auxílio Brasil aid program — created by the government late in 2021 — into a permanent feature of Brazil’s social security system. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

The draft approved by the House sets the floor for monthly payments at BRL 400 (USD 80). The benefit will reach 17 million families. 

Auxílio Brasil is one of the key pillars of President Jair Bolsonaro’s strategy to increase his re-election odds and gain support in the Northeast region, Brazil’s poorest, which is traditionally an electoral stronghold for the opposing Workers’ Party. Since the program was created, his approval ratings have improved.

The Economy Ministry wanted benefit values to be lower, for fiscal reasons. In order to fit the cash-transfer scheme into the 2022 budget, the government was forced to postpone repayments of its own IOU bonds (known in Brazil as precatórios), sparking mistrust from investors. Analysts within the government believe there will be no budgetary restriction for the program in the following years.