Brazil: Lula's scores first victory in the Senate

Brazil: Lula's scores first victory in the Senate
Credit: Belga

Brazil’s President-elect, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has scored a first win in parliament with the Senate's approval of a constitutional amendment authorising extra spending to guarantee the payment of social minima.

The text was approved late Wednesday by a wide majority of 64 out of the 81 senators, in the two rounds of voting in the upper house, whereas only 49 (two-thirds) were needed.

It gives the future Lula government 145 billion reais ($26 billion) above the spending limit, over two years, to finance social programmes.

To be adopted, the amendment still needs the votes of at least 309 of the 513 members of the lower house, who will start considering it next week.

The authorisation of this exceptional spending aims to continue the 600-real monthly allowances - equivalent to €110 - paid to the poorest families.

More than 33 million suffer hunger

This amount was already in force since August, under the government of outgoing far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Lula, who will begin his term on 1 January, has pledged to pay a monthly bonus of 150 reais for each infant.

The amendment, if approved in its current form by the lower house, will also free up funds for a popular pharmacy programme with significant discounts for the purchase of medicines, and for raising the minimum wage.

“This is a pact of Brazilian society against hunger,” Senator Marcelo Castro, co-author of the text, said during the debate in the upper house.

More than 33 million Brazilians suffer from hunger, and the purchasing power of the poorest segment of the population has been severely dented by the Covid-19 crisis and inflation.

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