Basic Income

After 40 days of isolation, informal laborers still cannot get government assistance

Federal government announced the release of a second payment, workers complain about difficulties in accessing the funds

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
The Federal Savings Bank rolled out another app to help with delivering emergency assistance funds, it does not work - Antônio Cruz | Agência Brasil

“I saw on TV that the second installment was going to be released, but I haven’t even received the first one”. The complaint by 34 year old cashier supervisor, Daniele Gomes Salviano, is regarding the emergency basic income that Congress approved March 30th of 600 Reais, geared towards informal workers, including the self employed and those with intermittent work contracts, who get paid hourly or day by day.

The Federal Savings Bank announced on Moday (20th), that they will anticipate payment of the second parcel of the assistance. The funds should start being deposited on Thursday (23rd), in a sequence that follows the birth dates of the beneficiaries. However, many who have been out of work for more than forty days relate that they haven’t even received the first installment of the aid.

This is the case for Daniele, who lives in southeastern ghettos of São Paulo, and has been unemployed since last year, when she had to resign to take care of her 11 year old daughter’s health.

In the midst of the novel coronavirus quarantine she is finding it even more difficult to find a job or temporary work. She sought out the emergency basic income from the very first day it was available, but has yet to receive any of the money. She currently lives with the help of her 69 year old grandmother’s retirement payments.

“Yesterday, when I got my internet back on since I had been without any, I checked the system and the amount was there but I couldn’t transfer it. When I logged into the Caixa Tem (Savings Bank Has It) app, it showed the money was there, but when I tried to transfer it to my savings account, it was telling me that I had to transfer it to someone else or to a company, and I wanted it in my savings account. I even tried transferring the funds to my daughter’s account but wasn’t able to do so”, recounts Salviano, who has a limited ability to download apps on her phone due to its age.

Caixa Tem is the second application the federal government has launched to facilitate the payment of the basic income. Daniele decided to risk her own health and go personally into a Federal Savings Bank location, to try and gain access to her funds since as she puts it, the consequences of the delay for her household “are complicated”. “I have a daughter who depends on me, her grandmother too, it’s a difficult time, because it’s hard to find work. The sooner the money arrives the better, so I can bring food home, food is already a big help to me”, says Gomes Salviano.

Also in the poorer areas of the south side of São Paulo, musician Taiguara Oliveira Cruz, who is 27, is having issues using the Caixa Tem app in order to get his benefits. An autonomous worker, he is faced with a huge drop in gigs and income due to social distancing measures, enacted to protect against the covid-19.

“I solicited the assistance and the app is having issues. They are asking me to download another application to continue with the payment procedures. They are saying it has already been deposited in my account, however I need to download this new app in order to consolidate the payments, and I can’t, it keeps saying the system is down”, explains the musician. He has downloaded the Caixa Tem app but can barely use it, he says that it “is full of problems”. Cruz also points out that the payments not being available really get in the way of paying his bills. “It’s delaying my life and that of so many others”, he vents, having himself gone to one of the Federal Savings Bank’s physical locations. “I didn’t want to leave my home because of the coronavirus, but if I stay home I’m not gonna get this money”, says the musician.

Under review

For Margarida Lopes and her family, who live in São Paulo’s west side, going to the bank is not an option, seeing that on the few occasions she leaves to go the supermarket or pharmacy, she notices huge gatherings of people at the Federal Savings Bank and Bank of Brasil financial centers.

“We still haven’t opted for going to the bank because of health reasons. They [husband and son] are both part of high risk groups because they have respiratory problems”, Lopes tells us. She tried to find out more information and other options via the app and the digital system the government has made available, without any positive results.

Margarida is pedagogue and a salaried worker, but her husband is a freelancer who works events, and has had trouble finding work during the quarantine. “We asked for emergency assistance just for him, which is fair. We did this on the very first day it was approved and since then it has been under review. Our income without his is quite low”, she admits.

Lopes goes on to say that the biggest difficulty they face is uncertainty as to when the help will arrive, if at all. “The consequences will be felt next month, they'll be felt when we have to pay our bills. We’re gonna make a tally taking into account that it may not come, since it’s already the end of the month and we have no indication that it will. To operate in the dark like this with a kid at home, is really complicated”, she points out.

Single mother and autonomous worker, 28 year old Flora Castro Santos, is also acutely feeling the agony of not knowing when the help she needs will arrive. She lives with her 8 year and 10 month old boys in the city of Guarulhos, in the São Paulo metropolitan area. Flora works as a dance instructor and hair dresser.

“I can’t practice either of these professions because they are both in person, there is no way to work from home. The only income I have at the moment is my oldest daughter’s pension. I signed up for the emergecy basic income on the second day, April 8th, and ever since then the system says that my request is under review”, says Santos, who is also part of high risk groups due to being in a post birth period.

While the government aid doesn’t come, she has received help for her family through a women’s group that came together to form a support network. “Those who have more, help out the sisters that need it most, and we make due”, she explains, reminding us that the problem is affecting a whole community of people.


The delays in dispensation of the emergency assistance, and the systematic problems in registration and utilization of the Caixa Tem app, have led to mobilization on social media on the part of workers facing the same issues as Daniele, Taiguara, Maragrida and Flora. On Tuesday (21st) morning, many seeking the government’s help complained via Twitter using the hashtag #CaixaTemNada (savings bank has nothing), which was among the highest trending topics of the day, and showcased the stories of yet more people waiting to receive funds.

The Citizenship Ministry, the department responsible for issuing the payments, argued in a press release that problems with the app should be taken up with the Federal Savings Bank directly. Having been contacted by Brasil de Fato, the bank did not respond up till the publication of this article.

Edited by: Leandro Melito