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  • Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a Family Allowance (Bolsa Familia) event.

    Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a Family Allowance (Bolsa Familia) event. | Photo: EFE

Published 4 January 2018

Well over 4.5 million beneficiaries were removed from Brazil's Family Allowance program.

Since de-facto Brazilian President Michel Temer took office in August 2016, a total of 4,775,301 Family Allowance beneficiaries have been cancelled from the program. Another 4,278,690 recipients have had their benefits altered.

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The details were compiled and released by Brazil's Ministry of Social Development.

For its part, the Temer administration cites fraud as being the motive behind the high number of cancellations, particularly those with an income greater than the minimum requirement to receive benefits, according to Brasil 24/7.

An audit conducted by the General Comptroller's Office, CGU, revealed that some people who own luxury cars and their own homes, as well as public servants, were beneficiaries of the Family Grant program.

Antonio Carlos Leonel, the CGU's federal secretary of internal regulation, noted that they're “concerned about cases in which the person entered (the program) incorrectly, or has an excellent standard of living, who is really committing fraud.”

However, observers note that the high number of cancellations were, by far, not restricted to such incidents.

Launched in 2003 during the presidency of Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, the Family Allowance program provides stipends to families living below the poverty line. In turn, those families must prove that their children are attending school and have been vaccinated.

It was just one of several national programs that helped lift millions of Brazilians out of poverty and remove the country from the U.N. World Hunger Map. When the World Food Program hailed the country as a champion in the fight against hunger, former Social Development Minister Tereza Campello said, “leaving the Hunger Map is a historic milestone for Brazil." 

"We are very proud because overcoming hunger was a priority for the Brazilian state," she added.

In contrast, Temer's administration has been marked by austerity measures, a 20-year freeze on public spending, debilitating labor reform and the like.

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