Printer Friendly

Choices and policies/Escolhas e politicas.

As a co-editor in this supplement, together with Nilson do Rosario Costa, I could not refrain from making a few comments on his deep and provoking analysis of the relationships between institutional rules, macroeconomic constraints and innovations in the Brazilian social protection system after the 1988 Constitution. The issues addressed are diverse and of distinct natures.

The text criticizes eloquently the linear association between macroeconomic adjustment and social policy, highlighting the role of internal processes regarding external constraints. It emphasizes the institutional conditions favorable to building a social protection system, in spite of the macroeconomic adjustment agenda, even though that same agenda did determine the emphasis given to targeting the protection of the poor, above all through the Bolsa Familia Program (Family Grant Program). The development of the social policy would have gained relative autonomy in relation to the economic policy, the priority now being the issue of fighting poverty, misery and social inequities.

While the FHC administration, although adhering to the targeting agenda, would have expanded the federative decentralization in health and education, in a process which "was closely related to the democratization and criticism to the authoritarian centralization of the military regime and not with the State reform agenda of the 1990's", the Lula administration would have made other choices. The creation of the Bolsa Familia Program directly affected the availability of resources of the central government for basic social areas--health, education, and sanitation.

The author highlights the conflicts and choices --tragic, in the Brazilian inequity scenario--between policies. However, what is considered as an advance in the education and health areas in the 1990's, "the expansion of the federative decentralization in health and education", in my view, is similar to the process which the social assistance went through in the years 2000, above all after 2004. The national expansion of the Bolsa Familia Program and its converging with the Unified Social Assistance System expanded the federative decentralization to the social assistance sphere, a component of the social security which was neglected up until then. In the sphere of assistential rights, the main assistential right to income transfer, which did not depend on contributions and guaranteed by the Constitution, the Continuous Cash Benefit, for elderly and disabled persons, which started to be implemented in 1996 with an average of 346,000 beneficiaries, reached a cover of 2.68 beneficiaries in 2007 (1).

On the other hand, the social development agenda after 2004 did not cause a rupture with the tradition of the movement of fight against hunger and food security, which guided the social agenda in the first year of office, but in redirecting it. The fight against hunger and food insecurities was now treated as part of an integrated vision of social development. It was not a coincidence that the Extraordinary Ministry for Food Security and the Fight Against Hunger (MESA), the Ministry for Social Assistance and the Executive Secretariat for the Bolsa Familia Program merged with the new Ministry of Social Development and the Fight Against Hunger, being granted the status of national secretariats (National Secretariat for Food and Nutrition Security, National Secretariat for Social Assistance and National Secretariat for Citizenship Income) with equivalent hierarchic levels. There was no rupture, but an institutionalization, a transformation of political agenda into public policy. The Consea, which had been dissolved in the FHC administration and re-established in the Lula administration, had a central role in passing the Organic Act of Food and Nutrition Security in 2006 and in founding the National System on Food and Nutrition Security (SISAN) (2).

The unification of the income transfer programs and the areas of food security, income transfer and social assistance managed by the MDS meant, with the converging policies and actions, a new guidance to face the issue, also highlighted by the author, of "a relevant and diffuse set of assistance benefits" and the redundancy of programs and double beneficiaries.

Regarding the numbers for the year 2003 presented in Table III, I disagree that the unification of income transfer programs in the Bolsa Familia Program would have produced a reduction of 4,722,031 beneficiaries in income transfer programs between 2003 and 2006. The total number of families benefitted in the year 2003 (16,335,596 families) has been distorted, since it expresses double families. When the Bolsa Familia Program was created in October 2003, several registries coexisted and juxtaposed and one single family could be in several different registries. The unification of programs also meant the registry unification, the Unified Registry System for Federal Government Social Programs, which was gradually--and with countless operational difficulties--filtering the inconsistencies and repetitions and incorporating in the same data base the beneficiaries of programs prior to the Bolsa Familia Program.

Between October and December 2003, the number of beneficiaries of the Bolsa Familia Program represented basically the beneficiaries which migrated from previous programs. From 2004, in parallel with the ongoing migration process, there was an increase in the inclusion of families who were not until then beneficiaries of any federal income transfer program. From 2003, as the number of beneficiaries and the amount granted by the Bolsa Familia Program increased, the transfer and number of beneficiaries of the remaining programs decreased. When it comes to the program's national expansion, between October 2003 and October 2004, the municipalities covered rose from 4,396 to 5,521, reaching the total number of municipalities in 2006 (3).

In addition to the issue of quantity, there is an issue of quality, or of meaning. The Gas Voucher expanded the reach of the social programs, for although it covered 8 million families, the benefits were limited to R$ 15,00 every 2 months. The unification of the programs increased the average amount of the income transfer grants, from R$ 23,24 to R$ 68,13 in October 2004 values (3).

The comparison of the budget and spending on different sectors is crucial to understand the political priorities in relation to the public policies. But as the text itself points out, other variables must be taken into account in order to explain why certain choices are made or why certain sectoral policies are more successful in its institutionalization and results than others. This was not the intent of the article under discussion, but it is one of the issues it raises. The sectoral processes of institutionalization of policies are not symmetric or regular. In two decades of democratization, reforms and innovation, the decentralization of social policies has been taking place in distinct paces and producing different sectoral configurations.

This debate poses the problem of explanation, of finding vocabulary, creating theories for what is new and upcoming in the confluence of different processes, internal and external, but acquires its own meaning in specific contexts. In terms of an agenda on policies research in a compared perspective, two issues arise: on the one hand, the need to understand the nature, the processes and the sectoral logic involving the mobilization of different actors and interests which influence the formulation and implementation of social protection policies in specific contexts. On the other hand, understanding that the social protection system is under construction, seeing it in the inequity and exclusion contexts that it attempts to overcome through its set of policies, whether they are universal or targeted.


(1.) Brasil. Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome. [acessado 2009 jan 30]. Disponivel em:

(2.) Burlandy L. A construcao da politica de Seguranca Alimentar e Nutricional no Brasil: estrategias e desafios para a promocao da intersetorialidade no ambito federal de governo. Cien Saude Colet 2009; 14(3):851-860.

(3.) Brasil. Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome. Dados dos Programas do Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome, 2004. [acessado 2009 jan 30]. Disponivel em: http://

Escolhas e politicas

Como co-editora deste suplemento, junto com Nilson do Rosario Costa, eu nao poderia deixar de fazer alguns comentarios sobre sua analise densa e provocante sobre as relacoes entre regras institucionais, constrangimentos macroeconomicos e inovacoes no sistema de protecao social brasileiro apos a Constituicao de 1988. Sao varias e de diferentes ordens, as questoes suscitadas.

O texto critica com propriedade a associacao linear entre ajuste economico e politica social, destacando o papel dos processos internos em relacao aos constrangimentos externos. Ressalta as condicoes institucionais favoraveis a construcao de um sistema de protecao social, a despeito da agenda de ajuste macroeconomico, ainda que essa mesma agenda tenha determinado a enfase dada a focalizacao da protecao aos pobres, sobretudo pelo Programa Bolsa Familia. O desenvolvimento da politica social teria ganho autonomia relativa em relacao a politica economica, sendo assumidas como prioridades as questoes de combate a pobreza, a miseria e a desigualdade social.

Enquanto o governo FHC, embora aderindo a agenda da focalizacao, teria ampliado a descentralizacao federativa na saude e educacao, em um processo "apresentando estreita relacao com a democratizacao e a critica a centralizacao autoritaria do regime militar e nao com a agenda da reforma do Estado dos anos 1990", o governo Lula teria feito outras escolhas. A criacao do Programa Bolsa Familia teria afetado diretamente as disponibilidades de recursos do governo central para as areas sociais basicas--saude, educacao e saneamento.

O autor ressalta os conflitos e escolhas--tragicas, na situacao de desigualdade brasileira--entre politicas. No entanto, o que e considerado como avanco na area da educacao e saude nos anos noventa, "a ampliacao da descentralizacao federativa na saude e educacao", a meu ver, e similar ao processo que se deu no ambito da assistencia social nos anos 2000, sobretudo apos 2004. A expansao nacional do Programa Bolsa Familia e sua convergencia com o Sistema Unico de Assistencia Social ampliou a descentralizacao federativa para o ambito da assistencia social, o componente ate entao relegado da seguridade social. Na esfera dos direitos assistenciais, o principal direito assistencial em transferencia de renda, nao contributivo e garantido constitucionalmente, o Beneficio de Prestacao Continuada, para idosos e pessoas com deficiencia, que iniciara sua implementacao em 1996 com cerca de 346.000 beneficiarios, alcancou uma cobertura de 2,68 milhoes de beneficiarios em 20071.

Por outro lado, a agenda de desenvolvimento social a partir de 2004 nao implicou a ruptura com a tradicao do movimento de combate a fome e seguranca alimentar orientando a agenda social no primeiro ano de governo, mas antes em seu redirecionamento. O combate a fome e a inseguranca alimentar passam a ser tratados como parte de uma visao integrada de desenvolvimento social. Nao por acaso, o Ministerio Extraordinario de Seguranca Alimentar e Combate a Fome (MESA), o Ministerio da Assistencia Social e a Secretaria Executiva do Programa Bolsa Familia se fundem no novo Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome, adquirindo status de secretarias nacionais (Secretaria Nacional de Seguranca Alimentar, Secretaria Nacional de Assistencia Social e Secretaria Nacional de Renda da Cidadania) com niveis hierarquicos equivalentes. Nao houve ruptura, mas institucionalizacao, transformacao de agenda politica em politica publica. O Consea, que havia sido dissolvido no governo FHC e reestabelecido no governo Lula, teve papel central na promulgacao da Lei Organica de Seguranca Alimentar e Nutricional em 2006 e na instituicao do Sistema Nacional de Seguranca Alimentar e Nutricional (SISAN) (2).

A unificacao dos programas de transferencia de renda e das areas de seguranca alimentar, transferencia de renda e assistencia social sob a gestao federal do MDS significou, com a convergencia de politicas e acoes, uma nova orientacao para enfrentar o problema, tambem assinalado pelo autor, do "conjunto expressivo e difuso de beneficios assistenciais" e da redundancia de programas e superposicao de beneficiarios.

Em relacao aos numeros referentes ao ano de 2003 apresentados na Tabela 3, discordo que a unificacao dos programas de transferencia de renda no Programa Bolsa Familia teria produzido uma reducao de 4.722.031 beneficiarios de programas de transferencia de renda entre 2003 e 2006. O numero do total de familias beneficiarias no ano de 2003 (16.335.596 familias) esta distorcido, pois expressa duplicidade de familias. Quando o Programa Bolsa Familia foi criado, em outubro de 2003, varios cadastros coexistiam e se superpunham e uma mesma familia podia constar de diferentes cadastros. A unificacao dos programas significou tambem a unificacao cadastral, no Cadastro Unico dos Programas Sociais, que foi aos poucos--e com inumeras dificuldades operacionais--filtrando as inconsistencias e repeticoes e incorporando em uma mesma base de dados os beneficiarios dos programas anteriores ao Programa Bolsa Familia.

Entre outubro e dezembro de 2003, o numero de beneficiarios do Programa Bolsa Familia representava basicamente os beneficiarios migrados dos programas anteriores. A partir de 2004, paralelamente ao processo de migracao continuar, aumentou a inclusao de familias que nao eram ate entao beneficiarias de nenhum programa federal de transferencia de renda. A partir de 2003, enquanto o numero de beneficiarios e de valores repassados pelo Programa Bolsa Familia crescia, decresciam os repasses e o numero de beneficiarios dos programas remanescentes. No que se refere a expansao nacional do programa, entre outubro de 2003 a outubro de 2004, os municipios cobertos passaram de 4.396 para 5.521, chegando a totalidade dos municipios em 2006 (3).

Alem da questao da quantidade, ha um problema de qualidade, ou de significado. O AuxilioGas inchava o alcance dos programas sociais, pois embora a cobertura fosse de 8 milhoes de familias, os beneficios limitavam-se a 15,00 a cada dois meses. A unificacao dos programas elevou o valor medio dos beneficios de transferencia de renda, de 23,24 para 68, 13 em valores de outubro de 20043.

A comparacao do orcamento e do gasto em diferentes setores e crucial para se entender as prioridades politicas em relacao as politicas publicas. Mas como o proprio texto sinaliza, outras variaveis devem ser levadas em conta para explicar porque determinadas escolhas sao feitas ou porque certas politicas setoriais sao mais bem-sucedidas em sua institucionalizacao e seus resultados do que outras. Esse nao foi o proposito do artigo debatido, mas e uma das questoes que suscita. Os processos setoriais de institucionalizacao das politicas nao sao simetricos nem regulares. Em duas decadas de democratizacao, reformas e inovacao, a descentralizacao das politicas sociais vem se dando em distintos ritmos e produzindo diferentes configuracoes setoriais.

Esse debate coloca o problema da explicacao, de se encontrar um vocabulario, criar teorias para o que e novo e que surge na confluencia de diferentes processos, internos e externos, mas adquire seu proprio significado em contextos especificos. Para uma agenda de pesquisa de politicas em perspectiva comparada, duas questoes se colocam: por um lado, a necessidade de se entender a natureza, os processos e as logicas setoriais envolvendo a mobilizacao dos diferentes atores e interesses que incidem sobre a formulacao e implementacao das politicas de protecao social em contextos especificos. E por outro, entender que tipo de sistema de protecao social vem sendo construido, visto no contexto de desigualdade e exclusao que ele procura superar por seu conjunto de politicas, sejam elas universais ou focalizadas.


(1.) Brasil. Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome. [acessado 2009 jan 30]. Disponivel em:

(2.) Burlandy L. A construcao da politica de Seguranca Alimentar e Nutricional no Brasil: estrategias e desafios para a promocao da intersetorialidade no ambito federal de governo. Cien Saude Colet 2009; 14(3):851-860.

(3.) Brasil. Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome. Dados dos Programas do Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate a Fome, 2004. [acessado 2009 jan 30]. Disponivel em: http://

Jeni Vaitsman, Escola Nacional de Saude Publica, Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Associacao Brasileira de Pos-Graduacao em Saude Coletiva - ABRASCO
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Vaitsman, Jeni
Publication:Ciencia & Saude Coletiva
Date:May 1, 2009
Previous Article:Tension between paradigms: notes on social policy in Brazil (1988/2008)/Tensao entre paradigmas: notas sobre a politica social no Brasil (1988/2008).
Next Article:Comments on the article Social protection in Brazil: universalism and targeting in the FHC and Lula administrations/Comentarios sobre o artigo A...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |