The Brazilian government will spare keystone social welfare program Bolsa Familia from budget cuts, a top government official said Monday.
Ricardo Berzoini, head of the Government Secretariat, said the family income subsidy program will not be slashed to balance next year’s budget.
“Bolsa Familia is a world-renowned consolidated program, so cutting its financing is not the best option,” Berzoini said, adding there were other choices.
Budget rapporteur and congressman Ricardo Barros had proposed cutting the popular program by 10 billion reais (2.55 billion U.S. dollars) to reduce spending in 2016.
The federal government sent Congress a budget proposal with a 30.5 billion-real (7.8 billion U.S.-dollar) deficit, leading to Barros’ proposal.
President Dilma Rousseff had said via Twitter that cutting Bolsa Familia’s budget was akin to attacking the program’s millions of beneficiaries.
The so-called “conditional cash transfer program” provides low-income families with a monthly cash incentive of 70 reais (about 18 dollars) to keep their children in school, vaccinate infants and get regular health checkups. Families lose the subsidy if they don’t meet the conditions.
In a March 2014 article, the World Bank called Bolsa Familia “the most successful Brazilian program of all time … which in its decade of implementation has managed to reduce poverty by half in Brazil (from 9.7 percent to 4.3 percent).”