By a large majority, the Chamber of Deputies gave the green light to the text, which decrees the “state of emergency” in order to circumvent the electoral law.
The government will disburse more than 41,000 million reais (about 7,600 billion dollars) in measures that will be in force until December of this year.
Among other benefits, the government will increase by 50%, from 400 to 600 reais (about 110 dollars) per month the Aid Brazil program, formerly Bolsa Familia, created by former leftist president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
In addition, it will create aid for truck drivers of 1,000 reais per month (185 dollars), it will extend aid to the poorest to buy gas cylinders and establish new aid for taxi drivers, in the midst of a rebound in energy prices.
The measures, included in a draft constitutional amendment (PEC), were described by analysts as “PEC Kamikaze”, due to the risk to the balance of public accounts.
Critics of Bolsonaro have questioned the legality of the PEC, which in addition to circumventing the “expenditure ceiling” rule that prevents the government from spending above inflation, could violate Brazilian law that prevents the Executive from granting new benefits in an election year. .
“If nothing was done to relieve Brazilians from the impact of ‘stay home, the economy will be seen later’ and the war (in Ukraine), the left and journalism would claim omission,” Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter days ago. , defending the package of measures. “As we are doing, they claim that it is electoral,” he added.
The far-right administration sought a loophole to spend more by justifying that Brazil is in a “state of emergency” due to Russia’s war in Ukraine and its economic impact, especially on fuel prices.
– “Throwing money from a helicopter” –
Even Lula’s opposition Workers’ Party (PT) supported the measures in Congress, although he deplored their “electoral” nature.
On several occasions, Lula has compared the PEC to an “ice cream”: “You suck it, it’s over and you’re left with the stick in your hand.”
The extraordinary spending could be Bolsonaro’s “last card” to increase his electoral support among the poorest and generate a sense of well-being and try to improve his performance on October 2, the date of the first round of the presidential election, he told the press. AFP Paulo Calmon, political scientist at the University of Brasilia.
“It is an act of desperation in the face of the polls,” in which Lula maintains a wide lead, he added.
Bolsonaro has lost popularity in recent months, according to experts, due to the fragile economic situation and double-digit inflation since September 2021.
During the first year of the pandemic, the payment of 600 reais a month contributed to an improvement in the president’s popularity among the poorest groups.
Although the level of poverty in Brazil is high, “the current emergency (for the government) is electoral, not social,” Marcelo Neri, director of the Center for Social Policies of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, told AFP.
“Brazil is going to throw money from a helicopter without being effective in the fight against poverty (…) the government has ways to spend fewer resources and help those who really need it,” said Neri, who pointed out that Aid will not distinguish, for example, between families with one or several children.
Although they will bring relief in the short term, analysts point out that the electoral benefits can fuel inflation by impacting on the dollar, which has appreciated due to greater fear that public finances will get out of control.