Bloomberg — President Jair Bolsonaro’s proposal to help Brazilians suffering with inflation is becoming more expensive as lawmakers add more benefits to the original bill about three months before the general elections.
The bill’s latest price tag is 41.3 billion reais ($7.9 billion) after lawmakers included cash handouts to cab drivers and small farmers on Thursday, before it was approved in a landslide vote by the senate. It now goes for a vote in the lower house.
The original proposal cost 29.6 billion reais that would be used to compensate states that accepted to scrap taxes on fuel. It was later changed to a package of social benefits that also includes:
- Increasing handouts paid to poor families through the Auxilio Brasil cash transfer program to 600 reais from 400 reais
- Eliminating a waitlist of about 1.6 million people seeking to benefit from Auxilio Brasil
- Giving 1,000 reais in monthly aid to truck drivers
- Increasing the value of vouchers given to poor families to buy cooking gas
- Providing subsidies to guarantee free public transport for the elderly
Soaring fuel prices and inflation running above 11% a year top the list of voter complaints ahead of the October election, with most Brazilians blaming the country’s economic woes on the incumbent. Bolsonaro trails former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in all major opinion polls.
Bolsonaro had to “step in” to help overcome pushback from the Economy Ministry to provide more aid, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro, one of the president’s sons, said in a speech at the senate.
As it’s a constitutional amendment, the text needs to be approved by three-fifths of lawmakers in both houses of congress -- the upper and lower house carry out two separate rounds of voting each.