Why Jair Bolsonaro needs to recreate the emergency salary

Why Jair Bolsonaro needs to recreate the emergency salary
President Jair Bolsonaro and First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro. Photo: Alan Santos /PR

On Thursday, President Jair Bolsonaro talked about reviving the coronavirus emergency salary program, which expired after December 2020. Without going into detail, he said the new benefit could start being paid out in March and would last “for three, four months.”

In an event hosted by investment bank BTG Pactual, Economy Minister Paulo Guedes mentioned that the benefit could be set at “up to BRL 250” per month (USD 46) initially — before being lowered to BRL 200. However, he said that launching a rehashed program would depend on the recreation of the “War Budget,” that is, a parallel budget for coronavirus-related spending that remained in effect throughout 2020. Without it, the new benefits program would cause the government to breach fiscal responsibility laws.

A new emergency aid program is key to prevent Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration from spiraling into a full-scale political crisis. His Health Minister is already under investigation for claims of mishandling the pandemic and the opposition is mounting forces to open a congressional inquiry.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s poverty rate jumped from 4.5 percent in August to 12.8 percent in January — and the economy shows no signs of a speedy recovery. And that has impacted the president’s approval ratings, as a recent poll shows.

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