OPINION: One step towards dignity
The 81 senators, representing the 27 units of the Federation, 16 political parties, including two former presidents of the Republic, one current and two former presidents of the Senate, two likely candidates for the Presidency, 20 ex-governors and 18 ex-mayors, have signed a letter to president Dilma Rousseff, handed in by me on October 25th, with a proposal: she should appoint a working group with the purpose of paving the way for the institution, step by step, starting with those most in need, of the Citizenship Basic Income (CBI), according to Law No. 10.835/2004, approved by all political parties in the Brazilian National Congress. It is the first country in the world where the parliament has approved a law to that effect.
On October 30th, in the Museum of the Republic, in Brasilia, there was a ceremony to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Bolsa Família Program implementation, which has crucially contributed to the eradication of extreme poverty and to the reduction of inequality in Brazil. This program can be seen as a step towards the CBI.
Next January 8th, the law establishing the CBI will celebrate its tenth anniversary. It is important, therefore, that people who have contributed to the study of income transfer programs can collaborate for this purpose, such as Professor Paul Singer, Secretary of the Solidarity Economy of the Ministry of Labor and Employment since 2003.
Professor Singer will be able to work in close cooperation with ministers Tereza Campello (Social Development), Miriam Belchior (Planning) and Marcelo Neri (Strategic Affairs) and with Ana Maria Medeiros da Fonseca, first Executive Secretary of the Bolsa Família – people who have contributed to its creation and to the formulation of policies in the area.
International experts may also be invited. One of them could be Professor Philippe Van Parijs, who founded the “Basic Income Earth Network” and follows the development of international experiences of implementing the CBI in the European Union, India, Iran, Namibia, Alaska, Switzerland, and other countries. The pioneer 30-year experience in Alaska has made it the most equal of American States.
The proposal, enthusiastically signed by each and every senator, including the opposition leaders and presidential candidates, is consistent with what has been formulated by some 300 scholars from Brazil and from abroad, who have recently participated in the International Conference of the Center for Psychopathology and Public Policy, at the University of São Paulo, on Democratic Inventions: Constructions of Happiness, and who have also signed a letter to president Dilma with the same purpose. Professor Marilena Chaui was one of the most enthusiastic subscribers.
We have had great achievements in the Workers Party’s last ten years of government, featuring the improvement of the disadvantaged populations’ living conditions. The 81 senators’ voices will allow the president to take a leap and achieve her goal of eradicating extreme poverty, building a fair nation, strengthening women’s safety and providing dignity to all Brazilians.