Sao Paulo – With state subsidies to fight poverty now ended, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday said his country is “broke” and he is unable to do anything about it, attributing the crisis to “the press-fueled” coronavirus.
The subsidies which have kept millions of Brazilians from destitution ended as the pandemic, which has killed almost 200 000 people in the country, only worsens.
“Brazil is broke, boss, I cannot do anything,” said the former army officer, responding to one of the supporters who greeted him in front of his official residence in the capital Brasilia.
“I wanted to modify the tax reduction table, but there was that press-fuelled virus that we have there, that press without any character,” said Bolsonaro.
The reform he was referring to was a campaign promise for a raise in the level of tax-exempt income. Bolsonaro attributes the country’s economic collapse to lockdown measures pushed by state governors to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the country’s soaring death toll, Bolsonaro saw his popularity rise thanks to emergency aid paid out for nine months to 68 million Brazilians, almost a third of the population.
But those payments ended this month under pressure from markets worried about the country’s high deficit and debt.