Bolsonaro’s New Housing Program to Cement Popularity Among Poor

President Jair Bolsonaro launched a new housing program to consolidate his popularity among the poor, especially in Brazil’s north and northeast regions that have been traditional strongholds of leftist administrations.

Casa Verde Amarela -- or green and yellow house, a reference to the colors of the national flag -- is a program designed to help 1.6 million families buy homes with low interest rates until 2024. Its estimated cost is close to 26 billion reais ($4.7 billion.)

Bolsonaro’s popularity is rising particularly among poor Brazilians as the government provides a monthly stipend of 600 reais to informal workers who might have lost their income during the pandemic. The total program is costing public coffers about 254 billion reais, the biggest reason behind the country’s record fiscal deficit in 2020.

The president has already announced he’ll extend the aid, Brazil’s main initiative to offset the brutal impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Latin America’s largest economy. Though there’s consensus the amount will have to be lower than the current 600 reais a month, Bolsonaro and the economic team have yet to agree on a new figure, two people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because the discussions are private.

The economy ministry declined to comment.

The disagreements also extend to a new minimum income program called Renda Brasil, which Bolsonaro wants to replace the emergency aid in 2021. The initiative, part of a big post-pandemic plan, was supposed to launch Tuesday, but the announcement was scrapped at the last minute.

Instead, Bolsonaro presented only the new housing program, flanked by Regional Development Minister Rogerio Marinho, who has openly clashed with Economy Minister Paulo Guedes over pandemic spending. Guedes skipped the ceremony.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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