O federal government did not spend R $ 28.9 billion of the resources authorized for the emergency aid last year. The amount corresponds to more than a third of the R $ 80.7 billion of the budget destined to combat the Covid-19 pandemic that was not executed in the previous year.
The figures were highlighted in the study “A country suffocated – Balance of the General Budget of the Union 2020”, of the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies (Inesc), published on Wednesday.
The entity’s assessment is that, coupled with the public expenditure containment discourse, the government took too long to apply the resources that were set aside to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
In the case of emergency aid, of the R $ 322 billion authorized, only R $ 293 billion were actually paid, highlights the survey.
About equivalent to one year of Bolsa Família
Livi Gerbase, Inesc’s political advisor, recalls that the “surplus” of resources is equivalent to the one-year expenditures of the Bolsa Família program, which cost an average of R $ 30 billion up to the period prior to Covid-19.
– The resources took a long time to get into the hands of the people who needed it and there was money left over, including emergency aid, because there was a reduction in the benefit. This reduction, which was felt at the end of the year reflecting an increase in poverty, could have been smaller – he argues, referring to the decrease in the benefit, which went from five installments from R $ 600 to four from R $ 300.
The almost R $ 29 billion that was not spent last year is equivalent to 66% of the budget reserved for the payment of emergency aid in 2021, which established a much lower limit than last year: R $ 44 billion was allocated to this expense in the proposed amendment to the Emergency Constitution (PEC), resulting in much lower benefits than last year.
Aid is the only action ever resumed
The analyst considers that in 2020 emergency aid was the main political measure to fight the pandemic, which consumed more than half of the extraordinary resources, but was inserted in a context of more mitigation plans.
For this year, the delay in paying the benefit in the face of the resurgence of the pandemic and the non-resumption of actions such as the employment and income maintenance program (BEm) and the financing lines for companies, make the scenario more delicate.
The government has already confirmed that it will reissue these programs, but there is still no definition of funding sources. The stalemate in relation to the budget sanction also causes further delays.
– Emergency aid will be much more necessary because the economic crisis and the sanitary crisis continue, and the aid remains the last protection mattress, since we do not have the maintenance of other policies – he analyzes.
The problem, in this case, is the new value of the benefit. In order to fit the R $ 44 billion limit, the new emergency aid will be paid to fewer people and will have lower amounts.
The average benefit will be R $ 250, with people living alone receiving R $ 150 and women heads of families, R $ 375. Inesc argues that the government should resume payments of R $ 600 until the end of the pandemic.
– This emergency aid does not allow isolation, quarantine. It really falls short of what people need. The campaign for R $ 600 until the end of the pandemic is because we understand that the basic needs of the population are more important than the tax rules – he defends, remembering that, despite the excess of resources in 2020, there was no program to avoid the gap in payment this year because the government was convinced of a cooling of the sanitary situation.
The Institute made other recommendations, in addition to expanding the amount of emergency aid. For Inesc, it is necessary to end the spending ceiling and revise the fiscal rules in force in the country, maintain the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies, promote progressive tax reform and supervise and control and improve the execution of expenditures to face the pandemic.
Slow Health Spending
In addition to the remnants of the resources authorized for use in actions to combat the pandemic, Inesc also highlighted the slowness in the execution of health expenditures.
The survey points out that R $ 65.5 billion were authorized to deal with the coronavirus, including extraordinary credits and the reallocation of resources, but only about R $ 40 billion were effectively paid, which reverberated in the collapse in the health system.
A problematic point, which is linked to the current health situation, is the delay in releasing resources for the acquisition of vaccines.
– The resources for vaccination were released in December 2020, but there was no vaccination plan with resources, with advance purchases, with contracts. We refused vaccines and now have the resource, and no doses. Vaccination is very slow – evaluates the analyst.
Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has repeatedly affirmed that the best economic policy that the country can implement now is mass vaccination. The government’s expectation is that, in the coming months, a vaccination level will be reached with the application of 1 million daily doses.
The current rate of vaccination is not promising. The panel Monitora Covid-19, from Fiocruz, points out that 12.44% of Brazilians have already received the first dose of the vaccine. The percentage of those immunized with the two doses drops to 3.48%. Fiocruz estimates 634 days – about a year and seven months – to apply the first dose. For complete immunization, the estimate is over 1,724 days.