By Ricardo Brito
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Friday evening that state-controlled company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, known as Petrobras, has 3 billion reais ($575.5 million) to fund free LPG bottles to low-income people that cannot afford them.
Liquified petroleum gas (LPG) bottles are used for cooking mainly by low-income Brazilians, and the government has been criticized for its recent price hikes.
"The new Petrobras CEO, general Silva e Luna, has this 3 billion reais reserved to help the people in need", Bolsonaro said in an interview with a TV show aired on Friday.
"People could have one free LPG bottle every two months", he said, adding the government is still considering how that could be done.
The new subsidy would be announced in August with the expansion of other social programmes to compensate for higher inflation caused by record fuel and electricity prices. The government aims to increase the size of Bolsa Familia, a program that makes direct payments to families in need with children, from 14 million to 17 million families.
In the interview, Bolsonaro also acknowledged higher food prices but said they were caused mainly by international demand.
($1 = 5.2128 reais)
(Reporting by Ricardo Britto, writing by Tatiana Bautzer; editing by Diane Craft)