Portugal prepared to Coronavirus “without affecting public accounts” – Mário Centeno

  • ECO News
  • 4 March 2020

As in the past, Portugal is now prepared to react to an unforeseen event, such as the coronavirus. And it can do so, says Mário Centeno, "without affecting public accounts.

Mario Centeno still does not see the impact of the coronavirus on the national economy, but he admits it may have in the future. The finance minister, who is also president of the Eurogroup, says the work done in recent years “allows Portugal to react to unforeseen situations without affecting public accounts.”

The “impact of the virus on the Portuguese economy is still too early to anticipate,” Centeno said at a press conference in Lisbon after a telephone conference with the other finance ministers of the eurozone. “The national economy performed much better than the other eurozone countries at the end of 2019. The acceleration continued in the first months of this year”, says Centeno, pointing out that “revenues remain at very robust growth rates”.

Now, this “does not mean the global impact of the virus will not be felt in Portugal”, the finance minister warned, in statements transmitted by RTP3 channel. However, Centeno guarantees the country is prepared to react in order to minimise the negative effects that could result from this epidemic, which has already infected more than 90.000 people worldwide, causing the death of more than 3.000.

Centeno says the fiscal policy adopted in recent years brings stability. “It allows Portugal to react to unforeseen situations without affecting public accounts,” he noted. “Portugal has not had any hesitation in the past in defining policies to respond to situations similar to this one, even now we will not hesitate,” he said, stating that the surplus “is not the concern of the finance minister or the Government.

Centeno assured that Portugal will react in line with the other European countries, and is currently evaluating “measures that may be necessary so the region’s growth is not jeopardised”. From the meeting with the other finance ministers, Centeno revealed that it was agreed that “temporary measures” could be taken to mitigate the effects of the virus, stressing that there would be flexibility in the targets of the stability programmes, particularly for Italy.