Government’s priority is to support employment – PM

  • Lusa
  • 16 October 2020

Portugal's prime minister said that the state's priority is to support employment and added that there was no taxpayers' money to finance the Resolution Fund (FdR) in 2021.

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, said in an interview to Público newspaper that the government’s priority is not to prohibit layoffs, but to support employment, and said that there was no taxpayers’ money to finance the Resolution Fund (FdR) in 2021.

“Our [government’s] priority is not to prohibit layoffs, it is to support the maintenance of employment,” the head of government said in an interview with the newspaper Público, released on Friday.

The prime minister explained that excessive rigidity can mean eliminating many more jobs than will be sacrificed to keep the company running.

In the case of companies, Costa said, one cannot kill the patient with the cure and the reasonable – a word that the leader of the socialist executive uses a lot throughout the interview – is not to allow companies to abuse the economic crisis resulting from the pandemic to make redundancies that they would not otherwise do.

Asked why there was no agreement between the government and the Left Bloc (BE) on this matter, Costa replied that this question has to be asked to the BE members since the government did what was reasonable.

“Unfortunately, some countries have banks that need the support mechanisms in the FdR, this is our case with the Novo Banco. Then there is a contract that, like any other, must be fulfilled,” he said, adding that what is expected from a state is that it fulfils and honours its obligations.

The secretary-general of the Socialist Party (PS) also added that it is reasonable to say that, in this context, this year the state will not finance the Resolution Fund and that it of the attention to the Left Bloc and to respond to a position of the party that the government adopted this position.

“If someone is at a negotiating table with reasonability, the statement that we have prevented the state from financing the FdR is a political statement and a very relevant political gain,” he said.

Regarding the negotiations with political partners, the prime minister said that the government’s position in the last five years has been not to do them in the public square.

“I would not like to continue the negotiations with the BE through the Public Channel,” added Costa, clarifying that the executive is still making an effort to get closer and until there is a final overall vote on the proposed State Budget for 2021 (OE2021) there is time to try to overcome differences.

However, the limit is common sense and what is reasonable.

Asked if the difficulty in approving the budget for next year is a sign that the government is politically worn out, Costa rejected this hypothesis and considered that there is a huge difference between what is the political-media ball and what is effectively the will and popular feeling.