Andréa Fumagalli

Revenu d’existence approuvé au Brésil

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Le 3 février 2004 le président brésilien Lula a signé la loi pour l’introduction
d’un revenu d’existence (renda basica de cidadania) sur le plan national, votée
par le parlement le 8 janvier dernier.
C’est un évènement historique qui s’ajoute à l’exemple de l’Alaska (où depuis
1995 existe un dividende social égal pour tous payée en une seule tranche à
Noël !!, d’un montant variable selon le prix du pétrole qui constitue le fond
de référence : actuellement près de 1600 dollars par an) et au projet de loi –
encore à approuver – en Afrique du Sud (analogue à la loi brésilienne)
Selon la loi brésilienne, le revenu d’existence est monétaire, mensuel,
individuel, pour les citoyens brésiliens et les étrangers résidents depuis au
moins 5 ans et inconditionnel.

Par rapport à la proposition de loi initiale (du sénateur Suplicy), qui
prévoyait l’universalité, la nouvelle loi prévoit une introduction graduelle, à
partir des classes les plus pauvres. Le montant est en fonction des
compatibilités budgétaires (“the country’s level of development and budgetary
possibilities”), mais de toute façon devant permettre de faire front aux coûts
minimum de survie (“minimal expenses in food, housing, education and health
La mesure entrera en vigueur à partir de 2005 et sont attendus les décrets
d’application qui spécifieront les modalités de mise en oeuvre. Nous les
attendons anxieusement pour avoir un premier exemple pratique.

Pour en savoir plus, vu que la nouvelle a été totalement ignorée par les médias
italiens, je joins l’article ci-dessous (en anglais) et les sites pour

Brazil: Citizen’s Income Signed into Law by President Lula

This was a truly extraordinary event. Overlooking the world-famous Praça dos
tres Poderes designed by Oskar Niemeyer, the ceremonial room of the President’s
Palacio do Planalto was gradually filling with journalists, photographers, TV
crews, ministers and other political dignitaries.
Facing the swelling audience, four empty chairs. And behind them, a large wall
covered by colourful smiling faces of all ages and races, alternating with an
inscription in large letters: “RENDA BÁSICA. Cidadanía para todos” (Basic
income. Citizenship for all”).
An off voice announced the arrival of the President, and the crowd went quiet,
as José Inacio Lula da Silva and his wife Marisa sat down. By their side, the
Ministro da Casa Civil (Brazil’s de facto Prime Minister) José Dirceu, and
Federal Senator Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy, Lula’s only opponent in the Worker’s
Party’s presidential primaries and author of the law proposal which the
President was there to sign.
Summoned by the off voice, I rose to the pulpit to indicate briefly what I saw
as the world-wide significance of the event (an expanded English version of my
intervention was published the next day in South Africa’s Business Day and is
available from from
Next was Senator Suplicy’s turn, visibly moved, who briefly retraced his long
fight for the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income in Brazil, eloquently
recited a poem, restated the key advantages of a universal citizen’s income over
means-tested schemes, thanked the various Workers’ Party heavyweights who had
helped the proposal through the various stages, and ended in a way that did not
exactly go unnoticed in the Brazilian press, by warmly hugging the president.
After ceremonially signing the law, Lula paid hommage to the determination of
his old comrade, whom he described as the inexhaustible Don Quixote of minimum
income, while warning that there was no magical solution to Brazil’s problems
and that the new law would only be introduced gradually.
Notwithstanding this presidential caution, this was definitely a “day of glory”
for the very popular 62-year old Sao Paulo Senator, who was surrounded for the
occasion by his 95-year old mother, his ex-wife and mayor of Sao Paulo Marta
Suplicy, several other members of his family and many friends. A first
culmination in his fight had been the unanimous adoption of his 1991 minimum
income proposal by the federal Senate, never endorsed by the Chamber of
Deputies. His more ambitious 2001 citizen’s income proposal, instead, was
approved with some amendments by the Senate in December 2002 and by the
relevant commissions of the Chamber of Deputies in September and November 2003.
The President had until January 2004 to either veto or sanction it. He chose
the latter.
What will now happen? As initially formulated, the 2001 Suplicy proposal
stipulates that, subject to it being endorsed by a national referendum in 2004,
“an unconditional basic income, or citizenship income” will be introduced in
2005 for every Brazilian citizen or foreign resident for five years or more,
that it will be of equal value for, payable in monthly amounts and sufficient
to cover “minimal expenses in food, housing, education and health care”, taking
into account “the country’s level of development and budgetary possibilities”.
Two main amendments were made before unanimous approval by the senate: the idea
of a referendum was dropped, on the ground that everyone would be in favour
anyway, and a new article was added, stipulating that the “basic citizenship
income” will be realized in steps, at the discretion of the Executive, giving
priority to the neediest layers of the population”. And it is with these two
amendments that Suplicy’s proposal was signed by Lula.
From the second amendment it follows, no doubt, that Brazil is bound to remain
stuck for quite a while with a means-tested system. But this does not make the
law meaningless. First, the existence of the law makes progress easier towards
a stronger integration of existing assistance system, and towards a stronger
integration with the social insurance and the tax system, as Brazil’s federal
government is legally entitled to take any number of further steps, in a
financially responsible way, towards a full universal basic income. Secondly,
this perspective will help face the objections that will no doubt arise soon,
as the federally funded means-tested system keeps getting more comprehensive
and less stingy, and as individual and collective beneficiaries strategically
adjust to its getting established. When over 50% of the active population works
entirely in the informal sector, the income test needs to rely essentially on
declarations of income earned by the beneficiaries. As the officials in charge
of the existing income-tested Bolsa Familia system are well aware, there is no
realistic way of seriously checking whether the declarations are correct.
Consequently, either one needs to be ready for major problems of arbitrariness
in and resentment about local decisions of inclusion and exclusion, in
particular of a clientelistic kind. Or one needs to devise more observable
alternative proxies of income poverty,
such as the number of light bulbs, the quality of the material used for the
house or how well fed the children look, at the expense of discouraging
systematically a diligent use of the modest resources poor households have. A
genuine citizen’s income would get rid of theses problems in one swoop, while
extending support to low-paid working families. Even if progress towards it must
be gradual – for example through turning the existing means-tested Bolsa familia
and the existing income tax exemption for dependent children into a universal
child benefit system that would also benefit the working families
that are neither poor enough to be entitled to welfare payments (about EUR 50
per capita per month) nor rich enough to pay tax (about EUR 400 per month) -,
it therefore offers a way of tackling effectively the criticisms the existing
system is bound to trigger without accepting to roll them back.
To investigate the way in which the new law could influence the further
development of existing programmes, Eduardo and I had, on 7-9 January, in quick
succession a long evening discussion with Jacques Wagner, Minister of Labour,
and his staff; two long meetings with Antonio Palocci, Finance Minister, and
two of his top cabinet advisors, and with Cristovam Buarque, Education Minister
and former Governor of the Federal District of Brasilia, where the Bolsa Escola
programme was first introduced; a working lunch with Ana Miranda, the
President’s special assistant in charge of the new Bolsa Familia programme, and
her staff, and with Marta Suplicy, mayor of the city (Sao Paulo) in which the
largest municipal assistance programme is operating; and a working breakfast
with José Graziano, Minister in charge of the Zero Hunger programme. The
general picture was that there was strong sympathy for the
objective, but no clear vision about how to get there and, for the time being,
many other priorities. How much difference the new law will make to Brazil’s
protection system in the coming years is quite uncertain.
Just think that off the four ministers we saw, two (Buarque and Graziano) lost
their job and one was shifted (Wagner, from Labour to Social and Economic
Development) in Lula’s recent government reshuffle of 23 January. Nonetheless,
the signing of Senator Suplicy’s law proposal was an important, indeed
incredible, moment in the history of basic income, that should give hope and
strength to many across the world who view basic income as a central compoentnt
of a desirable and sustainable future for our societies.

The pictures of the event shown on the same evening on national TV can be
accessed at

Some coverage in Brazilian national papers can be downloaded from
and more can no doubt easily be found through search engines (try “Lula”,
“Suplicy”, “renda básica de cidadania”, “projeto de ley”, “8 de janeiro”,

Trouvé dans le journal mexicain “El Economista” (traduit de l’espagnol)
Internacional Hoy, Lundi 14 juin 2004
Lula promulgue une Loi pour un revenu minimum

Brasilia, Le président du Brésil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a promulgué ce
jeudi une loi de Revenu de Citoyenneté ( Renta Básica de Ciudadanía) qui
devrait assurer progressivement à partir de 2005 un revenu minimum à tous les
citoyens, pour un montant qui reste à déterminer.

Ce revenu sera « modeste » mais il permettra « d’en finir avec le sentiment de
verguenza » des solliciteurs d’aides sociales et de donner « la dignité aux
individus pour que quelle que soit leur situation future, ils sachent que
toujours ils pourront compter avec elle », comme l’a exprimé le sénateur
Suplicy (du Parti des Travailleurs, gauche au pouvoir) auteur du projet.

La loi a été promulguée au cours d’une cérémonie au Palais de Planalto à
laquelle participaient les principaux ministres et diverses figures de premier
plan de la vie nationale. Y assistait aussi le philosophe et économiste
Philippe Van Parijs, de l’ Université de Louvain (Bélgique), fondateur du
réseau européen pour le revenu garanti.
Dans son discours, lula a dit que la renta basica s’inscrivait en el marco
d’autres programmes sociaux (Faim Zéro, Beca-Escuela, etc) et qu’il avait
l’objectif de « transformer les exclus en protagonistes de la vie sociale »
d’un pays où la majorité de la population « gagne moins que ce que l’on dédie a
la cria des animaux dans les pays riches ».

Le mandatario destaco no obstante que pour résoudre les déséquilibres
structurels il faut aller à la racine (raiz) » et que « la solution passe par
la construction d’une société qui cesse de générer des exclus (…) mediante
consensos démocratiques chaque fois plus amples.
Suplicy, l’actuel président de la Commission Extérieures et de la Défense du
Sénat, habia logrado l’approbation de son projet de loi à la chambre haute en
1991, mais depuis lors no lograba que fut tratada à la chambre des Députés. Les
sénateurs volvieron à l’approuver à l’unanimité en décembre 2002, et le projet
reçut le parecer favorable des principaux responsables de la chambre des
Députés, sans que se présentent recursos pour tratarla en session plénière.
L’idée d’un revenu garanti a été lancée par Thomas More (1478-1535) dans son
œuvre Utopía.

Texte de la loi

LEI No 10.835, DE 8 DE JANEIRO DE 2004.
O PRESIDENTE DA REPÚBLICA Faço saber que o Congresso Nacional decreta e eu
sanciono a seguinte Lei:
Art. 1o É instituída, a partir de 2005, a renda básica de cidadania, que
se constituirá no direito de todos os brasileiros residentes no País e
estrangeiros residentes há pelo menos 5 (cinco) anos no Brasil, não importando
sua condição socioeconômica, receberem, anualmente, um benefício monetário.
§ 1o A abrangência mencionada no caput deste artigo deverá ser alcançada
em etapas, a critério do Poder Executivo, priorizando-se as camadas mais
necessitadas da população.
§ 2o O pagamento do benefício deverá ser de igual valor para todos, e
suficiente para atender às despesas mínimas de cada pessoa com alimentação,
educação e saúde, considerando para isso o grau de desenvolvimento do País e as
possibilidades orçamentárias.
§ 3o O pagamento deste benefício poderá ser feito em parcelas iguais e
§ 4o O benefício monetário previsto no caput deste artigo será
considerado como renda não-tributável para fins de incidência do Imposto sobre
a Renda de Pessoas Físicas.
Art. 2o Caberá ao Poder Executivo definir o valor do benefício, em
estrita observância ao disposto nos arts. 16 e 17 da Lei Complementar no 101,
de 4 de maio de 2000 – Lei de Responsabilidade Fiscal.
Art. 3o O Poder Executivo consignará, no Orçamento-Geral da União para o
exercício financeiro de 2005, dotação orçamentária suficiente para implementar a
primeira etapa do projeto, observado o disposto no art. 2o desta Lei.
Art. 4o A partir do exercício financeiro de 2005, os projetos de lei
relativos aos planos plurianuais e às diretrizes orçamentárias deverão
especificar os cancelamentos e as transferências de despesas, bem como outras
medidas julgadas necessárias à execução do Programa.
Art. 5o Esta Lei entra em vigor na data de sua publicação.
Brasília, 8 de janeiro de 2004; 183o da Independência e 116o da
Antonio Palocci Filho
Nelson Machado
Ciro Ferreira Gomes
Publicado no D.O.U. de 9.1.2003