Brazil government spending questioned

720px-Flag_of_Brazil.svgPeople, including teachers, bus drivers and police are protesting in front of the World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. There are concerns that the government is not meeting the people’s needs while over 30 billion in reals (about $13.5 billion) were spent on the construction of the stadium.
To give a broader perspective of the country today, Brazil is the seventh largest economy by nominal GDP in the world. It has a phenomenal market growing at least five percent of its GDP annually. According to Forbes the country has the fifth largest number of billionaires in the world, yet the Brazilian population below the poverty line is over 21 percent.
One of the largest problems for the country today is transportation. Infrastructure is poorly maintained, Brazil does not have trains for transporting goods, roads are poorly maintained and public transportation is underfunded. While money is formally allocated each year for the restoration of public utilities, spending is poorly tracked and locals are suspicious that industrial companies are exchanging favors with the government.
Minimum wage in Brazil is around 700 reals ($320-340) per month and a ticket for every bus or subway train costs around three reals per trip. That means the millions of poor citizens coming to work from the city outskirts every day end up spending at least half their total income on transportation. To add to the misfortune, cities like Sao Paulo have upwards of 20 million inhabitants and with 1,000 new vehicles added every day, the cities’ infrastructure cannot keep up. The country is notorious for large-scale traffic jams that are just likely to occur on weekend afternoons as during the weekday.
Alternate options to public transportation are difficult to find for Brazilians. Owning a car in Brazil is very expensive with budget vehicle alternatives being virtually nonexistent. The Jeep Grand Cherokee costs approximately $28,000 in the United States, but the sticker price in Brazil is an alarming $89,500. While companies can blame the tax rate of 50 percent for the cost of the vehicle, it doesn’t justify the ridiculous price hike for the merchandise. Cars manufactured in Brazil and then exported to Mexico are somehow cheaper for Mexicans than they are for the Brazilians who made them. Even cars recognized as budget vehicles in the United States have similar price differences. A standard Hyundai Elantra costs around $17,200 but in Brazil the starting price ends up being around the equivalent of $30,000-40,000.
With a minimum wage far lower than in the United States, the car market seems to be designed to shut out lower class workers from even hoping to attain their own vehicle. Brazilians around the country are protesting these rights at the World Cup and rightly so. Soccer is a source of national pride to Brazil and the World Cup is one of the most important events to the country’s citizens. Previously, the stadiums allowed the local businesses to provide inexpensive food for fans and the whole event allowed everyone to function as one collective family-like experience. FIFA now demands only official sponsors can provide expensive food options provided by large corporations and the stadium’s budget seems to be spent ineffectively.
Although huge protests continue in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza, a lot of the unrest occurs because of legitimate concern over government spending, with poverty levels and directly affecting the spirit of Brazil’s favorite sport. Streets are being blockaded and riot police are intervening in larger cities but, surprisingly, nobody is touching the World Cup Stadium because the people want to enjoy their soccer while still having their concerns voiced.