The covid-19 pandemic, which has already claimed more than 34,000 lives of Gauchos and Gauchos over a year and a half, has also had very serious effects in terms of the drastic reduction of income and the expansion of poverty and hunger in the Rio Grande do Sul.
In July 2021, the Inequality in Metropolis Bulletin presented data showing that Greater Porto Alegre was the second metropolitan region in the country where, proportionally, the number of people with an income below a quarter of the minimum wage grew the most.
Between 2020 and 2021, this contingent of people in a situation of social vulnerability increased by more than 280 thousand people (36.8%) in the capital of Rio Grande do Sul and in the surrounding municipalities, totaling 1,182,172 people. Only the Metropolitan Region of Goiânia had a worse index, with an increase of 45.8% in this indicator.
Also weighing on this complex social reality is the fact that 1.2 million Gauchos and Gauchos were cut off from national emergency aid at the turn of 2020 to 2021.
Another aggravating factor, in addition to unemployment, is the vigorous return of inflation, which affects society in general, but which is much more severe when it comes to the poorest populations. This is because the rise in prices of the most basic items for survival, such as electricity, food, gasoline, transport, etc., is even greater than that registered in other segments of products and consumer goods.
We cannot forget that, in Porto Alegre, a basic food basket costs, on average, R$642.31 today, the highest value among Brazilian capitals. Just to have breakfast for a month, a family from Porto Alegre needs to have R$ 240.00, considering, in this estimated calculation, the purchase of a liter of milk and three bread rolls per day.
We are not visionaries, but we warn that these data would be aggravated since March 2020, when Bill 74/2020 was filed in the Legislative Assembly, which proposes the creation of the Emergency Basic Income Policy in Rio Grande do Sul. of this PL is to create a legal instrument that makes it possible to serve around 400 thousand extremely poor families with resources that already exist in the Fund for Social Protection and Protection – AMPARA RS.
We are not visionaries, but we are human and we defend science and international evidence that pointed out back then that one of the only actions capable of stopping the force of this pandemic would be the transfer of income to the most vulnerable. Only the certainty of an income guarantee would allow the poorest people to maintain their social distance and guarantee a minimum dignity until the economy was fully resumed.
Governor Eduardo Leite (PSDB) officially received all our appeals, held a meeting with us and affirmed that he was in favor of the Citizen’s Basic Income Program as a way of confronting social exclusion. After all this stage of mobilization and struggle, which lasted more than a year, Leite presented a specific project by the Executive to the State’s Parliament to create Emergency Aid in Rio Grande do Sul.
Regrettably, Law No. 15.604/2021, which is about to complete 150 days of approval, registers a frightening low execution. We voted in favor of the law, because we understood that it was important to get started, even if it was so bashful.
At the time, we often reaffirmed that party disputes could not be above people’s lives and survival. But we were convinced that our project was more robust, possible to execute, quick to reach people and capable of being paid. To our sadness, the festive declarations of the Leite government did not materialize in people’s lives.
This was the case with the announcement, made in the middle of Mother’s Day that year, that almost 8,200 single mothers, with at least three children and at least five people in the family, would benefit from the aid.
This was the case of the announcement, accompanied by a lot of data, that 19,458 Simples Nacional companies, 58,410 individual micro-entrepreneurs (MEIs) and 18,530 workers from the sectors most affected by the pandemic – accommodation, food and events – would also be covered by emergency aid, which would total R$107 million, with part of the resources allocated by the Legislative Assembly.
After following in the footsteps of the Bolsonaro administration, which massacred the people with bureaucracies and cuts in national emergency aid, the Leite government was forced to acknowledge – in a timely public hearing held recently at the Legislative Assembly’s Economics Commission – that only 695 mothers land and 6,000 Simples companies were, in fact, benefited with resources. No micro-enterprises and no unemployed from the prioritized sectors have been able to access relief so far.
The slow and bureaucratized pace of emergency aid in Rio Grande do Sul contrasts with the speed and priority that the governor gives to his campaign for the presidency of the republic, which tries to sell him as a “modern manager focused on dialogue and the social”.
In the end, Leite, unfortunately, placed electoral interests above the life and survival of the people of Rio Grande do Sul. And it did not make the emergency resources reach those most in need, which, in our opinion, represents a serious omission by its administration.
For our part, we continue to fight for PL 74/2020 and we count on the mobilization of society in Rio Grande do Sul. We know that the initiative is possible and, more than that, necessary and urgent. We had the humility to place our experience – well demonstrated in the income transfer programs carried out during the administrations of former governors Olívio Dutra and Tarso Genro – at the disposal of the current government and society in Rio Grande do Sul.
Once again, we publicly appeal: be sensitive and empathetic, Governor! The people of Rio Grande do Sul are suffering and lack concrete and immediate support.
* Valdeci Oliveira is state deputy and proponent of Emergency Basic Income; Paola Carvalho is director of the Brazilian Basic Income Network
** This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato.
Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Edition: Marcelo Ferreira