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LatinNews Daily - 20 April 2021

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In brief: Chile expands pandemic aid

* Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera has announced changes to the emergency family income (IFE) benefit, set up to help vulnerable families in the context of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which will make the aid more easily and widely available. Some 6m families will receive Cl$100,000 (US$142.7) per family member per month in April, May, and June, doubling the number of beneficiaries in March and benefiting 13.3m people. The IFE will reach 80% of vulnerable families without the need for prior requirements. The expansion of the IFE will cost US$5.5bn and be financed with public money. Piñera stressed his government’s “commitment to not abandon or leave unprotected the families who need it” and said that the increase in coverage and access to the IFE benefit was in response to demands from the population and lawmakers from the ruling Chile Vamos coalition. The Piñera government has been criticised for the convoluted nature of its pandemic benefits programmes, which it is trying to push as an alternative to authorising a third pensions withdrawal, an initiative currently under discussion in congress but which the executive strongly opposes.