By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – A Brazilian Congressional Representative said on Tuesday he will propose the reduction of 35 percent, R$10 billion, in the Bolsa Familia (social welfare program to keep children in school), one of President Rousseff’s most important social programs, for the 2016 budget.
House Representative Ricardo Barros said the budget reduction would come from not allowing anyone else into the program. “Those who leave (Bolsa Familia) do not return. Those who remain, continue to receive,” Barros told local media. The budget for the welfare program, which guarantees monthly resources to families who keep their children in school, was forecast at R$28.8 billion next year.
The proposal was not well received by the government, which says the program is a lifeline to thousands of families.
Tereza Campello, Brazil’s Minister of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger told journalists after Barros’ statements that she would be willing to go to Congress to explain to representatives and senators how important the program is to a great number of families. “We are willing to show our representatives the information (on the program) so as to guarantee that the budget for the program will not be cut. The families need it and we want to make sure they continue to receive (resources).”
According to Campello the Bolsa Familia program today guarantees that seventeen million children attend school and allows for nine million families to have medical support. The government minister said that the welfare program spends annually 0.5 percent of the country’s GDP to help almost fourteen million families, or fifty million individuals.
On Tuesday Bolsa Familia celebrated its twelfth year of existence. The program is directed towards families who earn up to R$154 a month per family member.