Foto: Marcello CasalJr/Arquivo Agência Brasil

Federal programs targeting the most vulnerable populations have been most affected by Brazil’s budget cuts in recent years. Reductions in areas such as social assistance, education and housing reached R $ 60.2 billion from 2014 to 2017. The conclusion is a study led by the Institute of Collective Health of the Federal University of Bahia (ISC / UFBA) and  published, in September last year, by the international scientific magazine BMJ .

For the survey, budgetary data made available to the public by the Federal Senate were used. “We evaluated the expenses, in reais, committed to these programs in the federal budgets of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The choice of which to analyze was made before the determination of budgetary trends”, explains researcher Luis Eugênio de Souza, who coordinated the study.

Of the 19 programs selected, 15 suffered reductions in the period. The biggest budget cuts occurred in the programs “Food and Nutrition Security” (-85%), “Decent Housing” (-82%); “Facing racism and promoting racial equality” (-79%) and “Policies for women” (-64%). The survey shows that larger programs, such as “Bolsa Família” and “Educação”, also suffered cuts, which totaled more than R $ 15 billion in 2014 alone.

“In addition to the large overall budget reduction, it is important to note that the largest proportional reductions occurred in programs targeting the most vulnerable populations. It is clear that the current austerity policies in Brazil can even harm the health of this population ”, highlights Rafael Damasceno de Barros, professor at the UFBA School of Nursing, who participated in the work.

Through the study, researchers intend to identify the possible impacts of austerity policies, including Constitutional Amendment 95/2016, which limited federal primary spending over the next 20 years, on the country’s chances of achieving the sustainable development goals set in the Agenda 2030, agreement signed by Brazil and 193 other member countries of the United Nations (UN) in 2015.

For Souza, the research is an alert for decision-making in the country. “In Brazil, inequalities are manifested in different dimensions: income and wealth, gender and race, access to goods and services, as well as regional and urban-rural inequalities. The solution of this problem must be a priority, but our study shows that the measures taken can increase these inequalities even more ”, he concludes.