{ brad brace } bbrace at eskimo.com
Fri Jan 25 13:06:43 CET 2013

Despite the economic crisis, Brazil announced Thursday it
planned to give workers here a 50-real ($25) monthly stipend
for cultural expenses like movies, books or museums.

"In all developed countries, culture plays a key role in the
economy," Culture Minister Marta Suplicy said in an
interview on national television.

She recalled that popular former president Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva created "Bolsa Familia" (Family Grant), the program
of conditional cash transfers to the poor which his
successor, President Dilma Rousseff, expanded.

"Now we are creating food for the soul; Why would the poor
not be able to access culture?" the minister said.

Suplicy said the new incentive, approved by Congress and
endorsed by Rousseff late last month, is expected to be
introduced some time this year.

"The money will be put in the hands of the worker who will
decide how to spend it, by going to the movies, to the
theater, to an exhibition or the museum," she explained.

Other possible uses include purchases of books, music or
DVDs. The "Culture Stipend" will be paid through an
electronic card, with employers deciding whether to extend
the benefit to workers earning up to five times the minimum
wages (up to $1,700 a month.)

Employers will cover 90 percent of the cost of the stipend
but can then deduct the amount from their income tax.
Workers will pay the remaining 10 percent, but can opt out
if they choose to do so.

"There are many Brazilians, 17 million, who today earn up to
five minimum wages, which could potentially means an
injection of $3.5 billion in the cultural sector," Suplicy
said in an editorial published in the Folha de Sao Paulo
this week.


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