PGMA lauds Brazil’s poverty-reduction program

June 25, 2009 8:45 am 

BRASILIA, Brazil, June 25 -– President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Wednesday likened Brazil’s poverty alleviation program to her administration’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), saying they reflect the efforts of the governments of the Philippines and Brazil “to overcome social inequality”.

Brazil’s Bolsa Família (Family stipend of Family Grant) Program) provides financial assistance to indigent Brazilian families on condition that their children attend school and be vaccinated. The program seeks to reduce poverty in the short term by direct cash transfers, while the long-term anti-poverty scheme is designed to increase human capital among the poor through conditional cash transfers.

President Arroyo’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, on the hand, provides grants to the extremely poor Filipino families for their health, nutrition and education needs, particularly children aged 0-14.

The President first cited the BFP’s success during the state luncheon hosted in her honor by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva at the Palacio de Itamaraty, during her visit to Brasilia’s National Congress, and again when she visited the Brasilian Supreme Court.

She said President Lula’s family stipend program has resulted in a 10 percent rise in the income of Brazil’s poorest families “due in large (to) … the Bolsa Familia.”

The BFP program is the centerpiece of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's social policy, and is reputed to have played a role in his victory in the 2006 national elections.

Bolsa Familia is reputedly the largest conditional cash transfer program in the world.

The Bolsa Familia program has been mentioned as one the main factors behind the reduction of poverty in Brazil, which has fallen to 27.7 percent during Lula's first term in office.

Recently the Center of Political Studies of the Getulio Vargas Foundation has published a study showing that there was a sharp reduction in the number of poor Brazilians between 2003 and 2005.

Inspired by Brazil’s example, her government embarked on a similar conditional cash transfer program – the 4Ps, the President said. Within two years of the 4Ps implementation the number of Filipinos belonging to poor families and who availed themselves of the 4Ps has increased from 1.5 million 4.5 million.

At the Brazilian Federal Congress, President Arroyo reiterated to both Houses of Congress her praises for Brazil’s BFP which has earned recognition for the South American nation as a “leader in social protection”

In her meeting with Brazilian Senate President Jose Sarney before she met with Federal Chamber of Deputies Speaker Micher Terner, the President underscored the importance of legislations to enhance social protection.

She told Sen. Sarney that she was doing everything possible to ensure that her administration’s 4Ps initiative would reap the success that Brazil’s BFP has achieved.

The President added that she had asked the Philippines House of Representatives to institutionalize the 4Ps as a law.

She said she had earlier requested Deputy House Speaker Girlie Villarosa of the Philippines to rally the support of her fellow House members to enact the 4Ps into a law.

During her meeting with Federal Chamber of Deputies Speaker Michel Terner, the President underscored the importance of “revalidating” social programs such as the BFP and the 4Ps into formal legislations.

From the National Congress Building, the President proceeded to the nearby Supreme Court of Brazil to meet with Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes. Before leaving, the President and Chief Justice Mendes exchanged mementos of her visit.

Chief Justice Mendes presented to the President a copy of the Constitution of Brazil, a personalized medal and illustrated book of the Corte Tribunal.

In return, the President presented to the Chief Justice two hardbound books of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. (PNA)

LAP/OPS/ssc

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