Possible political crisis over state budget negotiation ‘unthinkable’ – PM

  • Lusa
  • 28 September 2021

"The political crisis is a scenario that makes no sense," Portugal's prime minister stated this Tuesday.

The prime minister said on Tuesday that there is no political crisis scenario following a possible state budget rejection, saying that this would be unthinkable as the country emerges from “the biggest crisis” caused by Covid-19.

This position was conveyed by António Costa to journalists, after being asked if the current political situation could make it more difficult for political forces such as the PCP, PEV and Left Bloc to make the state budget proposal for 2022 viable.

The leader of the executive countered, that, “so far, none of the [left-wing partners in parliament] has established any relationship between local elections and the budget process”.

“That has been said publicly and continues to be said. On election night itself, in fact, the general secretary of the PCP, Jerónimo de Sousa, said this himself. There is, therefore, no reason for one thing to change the other,” he said.

The budget debate process, according to the Prime Minister, “as has happened since 2016, must have a fundamental objective, which is to continue policies for improving family income, creating more and better jobs and the growth trajectory of the economy.”

Asked about the fact that the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has already rejected any political crisis in Portugal, the Prime Minister replied, “The desire of the president that there be no political crises is shared by the government and the overwhelming majority of the Portuguese.”

“But who can wish for political crises at a time when the country is trying to emerge from the biggest economic crisis it has ever had?” he pointed out, in an allusion to the consequences of the pandemic in Portugal.

To this end, António Costa pointed out that “just last week Statistics Portugal revealed the figures for the fall of the economy in 2020”.

“The huge fall that we suffered was perhaps anaesthetised by the set of measures adopted, particularly at the level of employment and for the survival of companies (part of them were months without being able to work). Despite the safety net that has been created, we have an immense challenge ahead of us”, he countered.

At this point, António Costa once again insisted on the rejection of a political crisis scenario, launching again a question.

“Faced with this challenge of the country, who wants to add a political crisis? The political crisis is a scenario that makes no sense,” he said.

The Prime Minister then mentioned that the government is working to deliver a state budget in parliament on October 11.

“I hope that the debate will allow us to improve the proposal with the contribution of the parties with whom we have been working. The final vote on the Budget is scheduled for 26 November and at that time we will be able to add national resources to the resources that the European Union is making available to us,” he said.

Before journalists, he reiterated that the country “now has new opportunities with the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR).

“Therefore, this is a phase in which the country has to be, not only focused on executing the Budget, but also on not wasting time on political issues that hinder the extraordinary opportunity that the European Union provides us. As the President of the Republic said on Monday, recovering is not only about restoring what we lost during this year of crisis. We have a strict obligation to go further and faster than under normal conditions. We have the funds from Portugal 2020, we will have the funds from Portugal 2030 and we still have the PRR”, he added.