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.
“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.