Reduction of the emergency aid leads 61.1 million people back to poverty in Brazil

According to the World Bank, those living on less than R$ 469 are poor; the pandemic has worsened the situation

Translated by: Julia Abdalla

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) |
The 2021 emergency aid program excluded 22.6 million people among those who originally received the benefit. - Catarina Barbosa/Brasil de Fato

According to a study published by the Research Center on Macroeconomics of Inequalities of the University of São Paulo (Made-USP) last Thursday (22), the reduction of the emergency aid, which paid beneficiaries between 600 Brazilian reais (BRL) and 1200 BRL a month (110 and 220 US dollars, respectively), to 250 BRL (46 dollars) is expected to lead 61.1 million people to poverty and 19.3 million to extreme poverty. 

The figures outgrow those prior to the pandemic. In 2019, 51.9 million people lived in poverty in Brazil – that is, with a maximum income of 469 BRL a month (90 US dollars), according to the World Bank’s criteria – and 13.9 million people were below the poverty line, earning at most a monthly 162 BRL (30 US dollars). Thus, the average value of 250 BRL is insufficient for lifting people out of poverty and extreme poverty

Researchers and the progressive sectors have seen the emergency aid program as a nod to universal basic income. In July 2020, thanks to the 600 BRL to 1200 BRL benefits, extreme poverty was limited to 2.4% of the population and poverty to 20.3%, according to the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (Continuous PNAD) of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). 

The National Congress authorized a transfer of resources amounting to 44 billion BRL (about 8 billion dollars), while in 2020, 295 billion BRL (approximately 55 billion dollars) were granted for the program. 

The current aid excluded 22.6 million people. The paychecks started in April and will last for 4 months. The values vary, including parcels of 150 BRL (28 dollars), 250 BRL (46 dollars), and 375 BRL (69 dollars). In the first stage of the aid, ensure by the opposition in the National Congress, 68.2 million people received benefits of at least 600 BRL. Now, 45.6 million people are in line to receive it. 

No new requests 

The millions of unemployed and hunger-stricken who did not receive the aid last year will not be allowed to request it now. Bolsonaro’s Provisional Measure (MP) 1039, which designed the ongoing program, determined payments only to beneficiaries of the 2020 aid, those already registered in public books. 

Another restriction of the MP is the limitation of the aid to one person in each family. The benefit guaranteed by the opposition last year contemplated up to two holders in every household, allowing a 1200 BRL total transference, and not the ceiling of 375 BRL now provided by the Bolsonaro government. 

Edited by: Vinícius Segalla