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By Charlotte Markham, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President Dilma Rousseff announced this weekend that the Bolsa Família benefit will be increased nine percent to R$176 per month. The adjustment comes in view of the extreme poverty line in Brazil also being increased and will be paid to families that have an income lower than R$77 a month per family member.

Brazil news, Bolsa Familia, welfare program
Federal government’s Bolsa Familia program helps over 13.8 million families, photo courtesy of Brazil’s Senado Federal/Creative Commons License.

The Bolsa Família social welfare program, introduced by the PT (Workers’ Party) government under ex-president Lula in 2006, grants cash transfers to low income families, provided that they adhere to sending their children to school and are vaccinated.

The increase comes in correspondence to a readjustment of the poverty line, which sets the income limit for accessing the Bolsa Família. Families with incomes of up to R$164 per month per person will have access to this benefit.

According to government news sources, a presidential decree reset the extreme poverty line of Brazil at 6.5 percent, currently the equivalent of R$77.

In a statement the ministry said, “The extreme poverty line, established by the ‘Brazil without Poverty Plan’, ensures the completion of the difference between this value and the income declared by the family.”

Despite the fact that President Rousseff had previously vetoed the increase, she confirmed over the weekend that the adjustment had already been approved by the congress last August 2015.

The new benefit amount will be implemented in June, and is expected to affect the 13.8 million families that registered to receive the Bolsa Família in April.

The adjustment will also apply to the benefits paid by the Bolsa Família for children up to fifteen, pregnant women and nursing mothers. For these cases, according to Ministry of Social Development, “the authorized value given increases from R$35 to R$38.”

Beneficiaries are allowed up to five such benefits per family. Likewise, the benefit paid to young people between fifteen and seventeen will increase from R$42 to R$45 per month, up to the limit of two benefits per family.

In a statement, the ministry says the measure “continues the improvement cycle and appreciation of the Bolsa Família started in 2011 with the launch of the Brazil Without Poverty Plan”. Between January 2011 and June 2016, the average Bolsa Família benefit will accrue a 29 percent increase above inflation, according to the government.

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