BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that his government will not be able to “perpetuate” the emergency benefits granted to low-paid and informal workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The payments began in April at 600 reais a month and were reduced in September by half. The program will end in December.
The total cost of the aid to the Treasury will be more than 322 billion reais ($61.2 billion), a heavy burden that has pushed government finances farther into the red.
The handouts helped raise the far-right president’s popularity to its highest level since taking office last year, as he eyes re-election in 2022. But his economic team has warned they will deepen Brazil’s fiscal crisis.
“We have our problems internally. We helped the people during the pandemic. Some want to perpetuate these benefits. Nobody lives that way,” Bolsonaro said in a speech during a visit to the Foz do Iguaçu bridge joining Brazil and Paraguay.
A week ago, speaking to supporters in Brasilia, Bolsonaro did not rule out a new extension to the emergency aid.
(Reporting by Maria Caroliona Marcello; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)