Lula wants to give gradual boost to Brazil’s welfare program, adviser says

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 Brazil’s presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva aims to gradually boost the country’s main social assistance program, starting with 18 billion reais ($3.47 billion) more if elected in October. and the budget allows it, an adviser told Reuters.

Lula, who launched the iconic Bolsa Familia social assistance program when he was president, has given few details to back up his promises to expand the current system, renamed Auxilio Brasil after his electoral rival, incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro increased Auxilio Brasil payments for the poorest Brazilians from 400 reais to 600 reais a month at the end of this year. Both he and Lula promise that they will find financing to maintain the most generous payments in 2023, with an annual cost of some 160,000 million reais.

Beyond that, leftist Lula, who leads far-right Bolsonaro by double digits heading into the Oct. 2 election according to most opinion polls, is looking for ways to expand the program, the former social development minister said. Theresa Campello.

“Our first priority would be to find resources to secure the 600-real payments,” said Campello, who is leading studies for Lula’s new welfare proposals. “After that, we are proposing a project that would come step by step.”

One of the first priorities would be variable stipends based on family size, such as an extra monthly payment of 150 reais per child up to 6 years old. That would increase the cost of the program by 11.5%, to 178 billion reais ($34.38 billion), she said.

Campello stressed that any expansion would come in stages, depending on the space in the 2023 budget. “We still don’t know the real fiscal situation,” he remarked.

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