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The Brazilian Congress is paving the way for emergency aid

RIO DE ANNEYRO (AP) – Millions of Brazilians struggling with the COVID-19 epidemic in the lower house of the US Congress on Thursday are being given billions of dollars in emergency aid while lawmakers are still working on the details.

The bill, already approved by the Senate, allows for a maximum spending of 44 billion reais – $ 7.9 billion, although the preliminary measure did not specify how many families will receive or for how long. Economy Minister Paulo Guedes had earlier said it would be $ 175- $ 375 for four months.

Last year, a transfer of 330 billion reais helped nearly 70 million Brazilians, who make up almost a third of the population, and is widely believed to help prevent an even worse economic disaster. But it was stopped on December 31.

In the long-abandoned port district of Rio de Janeiro, 34-year-old Tasiana Nascimento Costa said last year ‘s emergency fund allowed her to feed her two children, that life had stopped because it had stopped.

Costa, who used to make a living selling bottled water and other beverages on the street, said his income dropped from about 200 reais a day to only 50 or 70 reais. And with the recent resurgence of COVID-19 deaths, he fears being infected with the virus; he no longer works, relying solely on family benefits, a separate state aid program.

If the money cited by Guedes is approved, the epidemic aid will bring him an additional $ 18 a month. “Because I can not work at the moment, it helps,” said Costa. “But it will not change my situation much.”

Last year’s program boosted the popularity of Brazilian President Air Bolsonaro, and his rating has plummeted since it ended.

It also helped prevent a deeper decline in Latin America, the largest country in the world. Last year, Brazil’s economy shrank by 4.1%, less than the 5.3% decline forecast by the International Monetary Fund in April 2020.

Brazil is going through its worst moment of the epidemic. The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise, with a new record high of 2,286 deaths on Wednesday. New measures aimed at restricting or strengthening activities in some Brazilian states could also put financial pressure on Brazil’s poorest poor.

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