Brazil mulls extending aid program for informal workers, but lowering payments

Brazil mulls extending aid program for informal workers, but lowering payments

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s government is in talks with Congress about extending the emergency program to provide informal workers hit by the coronavirus crisis with three monthly payments of 600 reais ($112), but at a reduced level, Treasury Secretary Mansueto Almeida said on Thursday.

Not only will any future payments likely be lower, those eligible for them should be the poorest and lowest-paid people, Almeida said in an interview with GloboNews.

The program in its current guise will cost the Treasury 151.5 billion reais ($28.2 billion), according to the latest projections from government officials, up from 98.2 billion reais originally, then a revised 123.9 billion reais.

That is due to there being more claims than forecast, with the unfolding health and economic crises likely to trigger the biggest annual downturn in gross domestic product since records began over a century ago.

Deputy Economy Minister Marcelo Guaranys said on Tuesday that extending the emergency payments for informal workers at the current rate of 600 reais a month, or making them permanent, could bankrupt the country.

Figures on Thursday showed that the government registered its biggest monthly budget deficit in history in April, with Almeida and his colleagues again warning that Brazil does not have room for much more fiscal stimulus and that the public finances must be fixed soon.

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