By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, took to social media on Wednesday to criticize a project by a House of Representatives delegate which would cut the budget of one of the government’s most popular social program, Bolsa Familia, by 35 percent next year.

President Dilma Rousseff was elected to a second term in 2014, photo by Wilson Dias/Agencia Brasil.
President Dilma Rousseff was elected to a second term in 2014, photo by Wilson Dias/Agencia Brasil.

“Bolsa Familia is a maximum priority for my government, as it was for the government of former President Lula,” Rousseff said on her Twitter account. The President said reducing the program’s budget would threaten the livelihood of nearly fifty million persons whose lives were improved because of the aid.

Rousseff went on to say that the program, which has been recognized by the United Nations and the World Bank as a success in reducing poverty, is the largest social inclusion program in the world, directed towards the most vulnerable classes of society.

The House Representative who proposed the cut, Ricardo Barros, said Tuesday the budget reduction would come from not allowing anyone else into the program. The budget for the welfare program was originally forecast at R$28.8 billion next year.

Local media outlets reported that Rousseff assigned Chief of Staff, Jaques Wagner and Government Secretary, Ricardo Berzoini, to speak to Barros and try to convince him not to reduce the program’s budget.

According to the government the program, which today pays families to keep more than seventeen million children and youths in school, helped reduce child mortality rates by 58 percent.

This week 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.


  1. Bolsa Familia is not government spending. It’s a tiny tax rebate on the vast taxes charged on basic foodstuffs. Brazil is pretty unusual in charging high taxes on the basic sustenance of life. As such it is responsible for promoting malnutrition in the poor.

    Sales taxes in the US and EU are not levied nonbasic foodstuffs. When they are charged on other items they vary from 9% to 20%. Purchase tax in Brazil usually varies from 100% to 300%.

    Brazilians often don’t realise that government figures quote tax as the proportion of the result and not as honest countries do: the proportion of the initial price. This explains Brazilian’s confusion when they couldn’t understand the price of the Sony Playstation in Brazil. They thought their government charged them a 75% tax on games equipment importation. It actually charges 300%.

    Brazilians pay attention: 25$ cost + $75 tax is not 75% taxation! ha ha ha!


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