By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – In one of her last acts for 2015, Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, sanctioned the 2016 budget bill, on December 31st. The President, however, vetoed several items, including the clause which called for the increase of the Bolsa Familia benefits according to the inflation index of the last ten months.
“The readjustment proposed would not be compatible to the budget available and would imply necessarily the removal of beneficiaries from the Bolsa Familia program,” stated the President in justifying her veto. According to her the veto guarantees that those in extreme poverty continue to receive the benefits.
In October, the Congressional representative in charge of overseeing the discussions surrounding the 2016 budget bill had proposed a cut by 35 percent (R$10 billion) in the welfare program to guarantee the compliance of the primary surplus.
Instead of cutting the Bolsa Familia’s budget, a reduction in the country’s primary surplus, from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of the GDP, was decided. The Bolsa Familia, one of the backbones of the PT party social programs, is said by its supporters to be the largest social inclusion program in the world helping over fifty million families in poverty around the country.
Opposition leader, Senator Aécio Neves, criticized the veto decision. “During a moment of crisis, the first to suffer deeply are those most in need: those within the Bolsa Familia (program)” stated Neves through his press department. “President Rousseff with her veto once again sacrifices the part of the population that needs government help the most,” concluded the senator.