Brazil reduced the number of its citizens living in extreme poverty by 89 percent in the 10 years that the assistance program known as Bolsa Familia has been in existence, the minister of Social Development and Fight Against Hunger said Monday.

The figure was announced by Tereza Campello in a speech at the South-South Learning Forum 2014: Designing and Delivering Social Protection and Labor Systems, which got under way Monday in Rio de Janeiro.

The World Bank-sponsored forum, which will last until Friday, analyzes the different social protection policies implemented in the countries of Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.

The Brazilian minister said that the income transfer programs are based on the principle that "poverty is not something natural," Campello said.

Bolsa Familia at present helps almost 50 million people, or one in every four Brazilians.

The program, which in 2014 has a budget of some 24 billion reais ($10.22 billion), is aimed as ensuring that all families receive a minimum of 70 reais ($30) per person per month.

She said that the program, while part of the country's social protection network, "does not replace other aid" but rather compliments it.

Regarding the criticism that beneficiaries can get used to living off the aid provided by the state and never become productive members of society, Campello said that statistics "show that in reality that is only a myth against the poor population."

"All our studies show that 70 percent of the beneficiaries of Bolsa Familia work, a similar percentage to those that are not covered by it," she said.

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