The strengths and weaknesses of Auxílio Brasil, from the point of view of specialists

Auxílio Brasil, replacing Bolsa Família, has yet to pass the control of Parliament to reach the population definitively. While the proposal is being discussed in Congress, specialists heard by Gazeta do Povo praise the government’s intention to increase the amount of the benefit, which would lift millions of families out of poverty. On the other hand, they draw attention to two weaknesses: the design of the program is not yet mature and the federal government’s attempt to work on several fronts could end up diverting attention from the main problem: the fight against poverty and inequalities.

There are nine less benefits and aids to pay. In practice, with the help, the government complicates the structure of the Bolsa Família a little and widens its range of beneficiaries.

The amounts to be paid have not been specified, although President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) has signaled his intention to increase by at least 50% the “average ticket” currently paid by Bolsa Família, by R $ 192. , the income limits that define poverty and extreme poverty – which defines which families can participate – will remain the same as in Bolsa Família.

Despite Bolsonaro’s promise, there is so far no official forecast of an increase in the amount of benefits. On the contrary: according to the Annual Finance Law (PLOA) of 2022, which the government presented on August 31, Brazil Aid has a total budget of BRL 34.7 billion, slightly lower than the planned BRL 34.9 billion. for the Bolsa Família in 2021.

It is always possible to modify the budget, even after its approval by Congress. And, in the opinion of some interlocutors, the government should do it, proposing a new way out to increase the contribution to Auxílio Brasil.

The PLOA does not indicate the individual amounts of benefits that will be paid to families, but indicates the total budget allocated to each of them. See below:

increase in benefits

“The direction of the program is commendable,” said Marcelo Neri, director of FGV Social, the social policy center of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation. “Apparently this is not an experimental design. It looks like the government is going to push this proposal forward. And somehow it’s a little daring.”

According to the expert, it is important to devote more resources to the fight against poverty, not only because of the situation of social and economic fragility marked by the effects of the pandemic, but also because of the loss of already existing allocations. paid to families in vulnerable situations.

The increase promised by the presidency, of 50%, would therefore, in practice, be a replacement for the loss of value after years without correction – the last adjustment of the benefit took place in the government of former President Michel Temer. Neri claims that a 43 billion reais increase in the program would be enough to bring all Brazilians to the poverty line as “minimum living conditions”. “An increase of this magnitude would be enough to take the program to a new all-time high in value,” he said.

In addition to the need to increase the value already exceeded, there are points which deserve attention, but which generally do not receive attention. “It’s not just about defining value. There is a structure behind, people registration, agility, updating, operationalization, active research (a very poor one got a job and should give way to another), improving services at the cutting edge of technology, “said Marcos Mendes, researcher associated with Insper.

The professor also recalls that the proposal is not clear as to the financing aspects, since, for it to work, it will be necessary to provide a solution to the 89 billion reais of court orders (debts recognized by the courts) that the Union will have to pay.

Two main measures have been studied by the government: a proposal to amend the Constitution (PEC) to allow the payment of court orders in installments, or a solution via the National Council of Justice (CNJ), which plans to limit the payment of orders to the same correction rule as that used for the spending limit. That is, inflation measured by the correction in the CPI accumulated over the 12 months up to June.

According to the model studied, of the 89 billion BRL of debt to be paid in 2022, only 37.8 billion BRL would be paid. And over the next few years, new and old court orders would be added to the bill. Any of these alternatives could lighten the budget, allowing the government to drain resources into the social program.

Lots of fronts, less focus

Auxílio Brasil provides nine benefits and aids, according to what has been presented by the federal government to the company. Are they:

Childhood allowance: For families with children up to 36 months, paid by a member fulfilling this condition. (Early Childhood and Family Composition) School Sport Aid: For students aged between 12 and 17 years incomplete who stand out in the official competitions of the school games system Junior Scientific Initiation Scholarship: For students who compete scientists related to basic education themes. Citizen’s Childhood Aid: Intended for children’s access, full or part-time, to daycare centers, regulated or approved, which offer early childhood education. Rural: Incentive for “the production, donation and consumption of healthy food by family farmers for family consumption”. Only families residing in municipalities that have signed a membership contract with the Ministry of Citizenship will be able to claim the allowance.Assistance for Productive Urban Inclusion: Intended for citizens who are already beneficiaries and who obtain a working relationship. transition: To compensate families who have had a reduction in the total amount received due to the end of Bolsa Família and the new structure of financial allowances provided by Auxílio Brasil.

The introduction of many variables, however, places the government in a dilemma: to broaden the reach and serve more people and, on the other hand, end up losing focus on the main problem – the fight against poverty. This is what Marcelo Neri emphasizes.

“This could end up diverting attention both from the poorest and from the path of stones to the poor,” says the expert. “It is necessary to use structures already in place to be able to progress in the programs. The government must create a body to measure scientific merit, sports merit or academic performance, and it cannot. Brazil is a large and diverse country. country, it is a difficult task. “

“The BF already articulates many levels of government and areas. Education, health, productive inclusion, assistance, and that’s already quite complex. It’s all a question of how the gradation is done to have more gains than losses in it. process, ”adds Néri.

Marcio Mendes, from Insper, believes that the deputy presented by the government looks more like a letter of intent than a concrete proposal. He also said that one of the difficulties will be administrative in nature, since different ministries will have to talk to each other to articulate the program.

“There is no value determination in the MP presented by the government, nor how the programs relate to each other,” he says. “If you only put points of intention, when it comes to adjusting the design, it can be all twisted,” he warns.

He cites, as an example, the productive inclusion program, in which the beneficiary family can see their average ticket increase as they obtain formal employment. “Income transfer is decreasing and inclusion assistance is increasing, apparently. And this will gradually generate the exit of the family from the program. take advantage and increase each other, ”explains Mendes.

Consequently, such a measure could, in the expert’s opinion, become a kind of new salary bonus. In this regard, Mendes recalls: “This is not a well-designed program, because those who are employed in the formal sector are far from among the poorest. The poor are unemployed, in the informal sector, ”he said.

Another point of the proposal criticized by Mendes is aid to Rural Productive Inclusion, seen by the specialist as an attempt to revive Zero Hunger, of the PT administration. In Aid, the government wants to encourage “the production, donation and consumption of healthy food by family farmers for family consumption”. Only families residing in municipalities that have signed a membership contract with the Ministry of Citizenship will be able to benefit from the allowance.

“This program had a very high cost, with the storage of foodstuffs, the loss of the products, the transport of the products, the administrative and transaction costs and, in addition, family farming did not produce in sufficient volume to meet the demand. asks, ”he assesses. The direct transfer of income is considered by economists to be much cheaper in administrative terms.

Some interlocutors believe that the 2022 election calendar should facilitate the approval of the proposal in parliament. The fear, on the other hand, is what kind of proposal should come to fruition, since there has not been enough debate, and how the program will be maintained over the next few years.

“Despite having had several test balls, there was not really a public debate on the program. We are talking about Renda Brasil, Renda Cidadã”, explains Marcelo Neri.

“A novelty for electoral purposes could end up being a bullet in the foot,” said Mendes. “Doing this in a hurry can result in a lower quality program, in addition to opening a hiatus without payment of benefits due to a lack of regulation.”

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