The leaders of Brazilian congress two chambers announced on Friday priority will be given to reviving pandemic emergency payments to the vulnerable population, which are expected to be granted in four months, from March to June.
Senate president Rodrigo Pacheco speaking next to Economy minister Paulo Guedes and Lower House leader Arthur Vila emphasized that emergency aid and the Covid-19 vaccines are the absolute priority of the Legislative and the president Bolsonaro administration.
“We expect there will be emergency aid in March, April, May and eventually a fourth month of June,” Pacheco said, insisting that the package meet the government’s fiscal rules.
For that to happen, the aid must be part of a ‘calamity clause’ in the so-called federative pact constitutional amendment bill, essentially mirroring last year’s ‘War Budget’ that bypassed the conventional budget rules and meant the government’s spending cap was not broken.
Lira said Congress will get to work upon returning from next week’s Carnival holidays.
Last year’s emergency measures to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic cost the government around 8% of GDP. More than half of that, some 322 billion Reais (US$ 60 billion), consisted of direct transfers to the poor.
That expired on Dec. 31. The severing of the cash lifeline to millions of people, a second wave of the virus and a slowing economy have forced the government to review the situation. No figures were given on Friday, but Guedes said on Thursday the monthly payments may be around 250 Reais (US$ 46).
That would mark a reduction from the initial 600 Reais a month in July-September last year and then 300 Reais in October-December.
Guedes has insisted that extension of the payments must be met with cost-cutting measures elsewhere in the budget to signal that the government is serious about reducing the record deficit and debt it amassed last year.
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