Tuesday, March 26th 2013 - 22:44 UTC

March-bonus for 7 million low income Chileans, handout in presidential election year

Chilean president Sebastian Piñera signed this week a bill which grants a special ‘March-bonus’ to low-income families and is extensive to seven million people. Each beneficiary will receive the equivalent of 85 dollars which will represent for the Treasury an outlay of 208 million dollars.

According to official stats 15% of the Chilean population live below the poverty line

The ever smiling Piñera, thee most unpopular president of the last twenty years

The bill was approved in Congress last March 20 and becomes effective 8 April. The March-bonus comes at a very appropriate moment since in March the school year begins in Chile and families must face additional costs such as registration fees, uniforms, books and other implements, insurances and other issues.

But it could also mean a boost for the ruling conservative coalition which next November faces a general election when Chileans will decide who succeeds President Piñera, the most unpopular leader of the country since the return of democracy in 1990, although a very efficient administrator.

His coalition is not doing well in opinion polls and is trailing the coalition that has ruled Chile since 1990 with the exception of the last three and a half years. This is particularly challenging since former president and the first woman head of state in Chile Michelle Bachelet has thrown her hat into the ring. Although her coalition lost to Piñera she stepped down as the most popular president in recent years.

“Because we have sown with effort, today we can reap with responsibility” said President Piñera in a cultural centre to the southeast of Santiago an area of low income working families.

“A bonus in the month of March comes at the right moment to help families with school children, and that is why we decided this was the month, because Chile can and the families need it”, added Piñera.

All families that receive standing government benefits such as family subsidy, ethical family income or child allowance are entitled to the March-bonus of 40.000 Chilean Pesos (approx 85 dollars) plus 16 dollars for each child below the age of 18.

The March-bonus also included this time 293.538 families defined as belonging to the “emerging middle class” that have Social protection and a family income of 1.3 million Pesos a month (approx 2.754 dollars). This means that the month of March will be smiling for over 7 million Chileans.

Chile has a population of 17.2 million with a GDP of 270 billion dollars and a per capita income of 18.400 US dollars. According to official stats 15.1% of the population is below the poverty line (making below 2 dollars per day).

The presidential election is scheduled for Sunday 17 November 2013 with a run off on 15 December if none of the candidates manages an absolute majority in the first round. Sebastian Piñera is barred from seeking immediate re-election.

This will be the first presidential election in Chile in which all eligible voters will be automatically enrolled, and where voting will not be mandatory.

7 comments Feed

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1 Anglotino (#) Mar 26th, 2013 - 11:18 pm Report abuse
Power oscillating between centre left and centre right is not a bad thing.

Though I'm a fan of compulsory voting, even though it would seem Chile no longer is.
2 Ayayay (#) Mar 27th, 2013 - 12:51 am Report abuse
Exactly, Anglotino.
Everyone accepts gifts, and Chile is doing well :)
3 Frank (#) Mar 27th, 2013 - 01:02 am Report abuse
Better to have put the money into education... scholarships or whatever..

This is a bit like the day before an Oz election... 'vote for us and we will give you free beer!....'

Centre left/centre right is good... sad thing about much of SA is that its far left/far right....

The good thing about Chile is that they have a growing middle class... unlike RGland where the middle class is punted straight back into poverty every ten years.....

Heading out of Melb you used to be able to see the Leader sign on the left from the Hume...

Palta Hass at $Ch2399 ( about $5 Oz) a kilo today at what was Fullfresh and now seems to be Unimarc ( the one where the railway station was before the 1960 earthquake ) on the Costanera ... better price and quality than you could get at Woolies. last week..
4 mastershakejb (#) Mar 27th, 2013 - 03:40 am Report abuse
Really there's no such thing as left, center, or right in South America, there is ONLY corrupt. The only exceptions to this are Uruguay and Chile. Unfortunately Uruguay is subservient to corrupt Argentina, so in a way that really only leaves Chile as the exception in South America. Chile's still not totally clean, not by any means, but its at least clean enough to be able to make a distinction between left, right, and center.
5 Condorito (#) Mar 27th, 2013 - 02:52 pm Report abuse
Palta Hass only Ch$1600 at my local market - remarkable as we are in the 8th year of a drought.

The problem with the compulsory vote here was the way it was implemented. You had to vote in the locality where you were registered, so for many people who work/live 100s or thousands of miles from where they are registered is was a significant effort to vote and if you didn't vote you got fined. They could have improved the system rather than scrapped it.
6 ManRod (#) Mar 28th, 2013 - 02:36 pm Report abuse
1600 pesos the kilo of avocado? Thats about 3,20 dollars or 2,5 Euros.
How many avocados is that?
Here in Germany they cost about 1,30 Euro... per single unit of avocado.
Our main providers for Avocados is Chile, Peru and Israel.
7 Frank (#) Mar 28th, 2013 - 07:17 pm Report abuse
The things I do in the name of research..... in the supermercado I shop at you can buy small avos for $ch2000 a kilo bag with about 8 to the bag. I buy the loose ones.... they are bigger.... about 4 to the kilo..... so about US$1.20 each for big ones.... 50c for small ones.....

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