About the reduction of emergency aid

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By ANDRÉ SINGER*

With the reduction in the amount of emergency aid, the support that the president obtained may be lost

President Jair Bolsonaro's decision to extend until December the emergency aid that the most vulnerable part of the population has been receiving since the beginning of the pandemic is important as a complement to the protection of people who are in a very precarious situation, in view of the spread of the coronavirus. However, he simultaneously halved the amount that was being received by these people. Thus, in these last months of 2020, the population that had been receiving 600 reais will receive 300.

We do not know, at this moment, how serious this could be, since unemployment has been growing, the signs that there was a strong impact on economic activities are growing and, therefore, it is possible that this cut represents a significant loss - even even in terms of the amount of food purchases – for certain segments among those who had been receiving the aid, a significant number of people: around 65 million Brazilians.

On the other hand, it is also worth considering that the emergency aid – it is always good to remember – was initially a government proposal of 200 reais, converted by the National Congress into 600. This last amount was responsible for mitigating the impact of the recession, for maintaining some degree of of economic activity during the most serious moment of fall in economic production. The reduction in the aid amount, therefore, could also have a negative impact on the resumption of economic activities, which are absolutely necessary in this period when we hope that the issue of the coronavirus will decline in importance and become something that belongs to the past, if all run smoothly, although this is clearly not on the horizon.

We still have no way of assessing what the political consequences will be of the decision taken by Jair M. Bolsonaro to extend emergency aid until December, although with the reduction of its value by half. Polls showed that, after some time, support for the President of the Republic increased among low-income groups. This is a very significant amount in regions where the cost of living is lower. With the reduction in value from R$600 to R$300, the support that was gained may also be lost, because people will start to miss this now suppressed portion.

Although there may also be a reaction to consider that these 300 reais that will be kept correspond to important aid and that the federal government deserves gratitude, even though the government's original proposal was 200 reais.

*André Singer is a professor of political science at USP. Author, among other books, of Lulism in Crisis (Company of Letters).

Text established from an interview given to Sido Tavares, on USP radio

 

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