Country’s rail operator wants to be considered as public administration so as to get more funding

  • Lusa
  • 29 September 2021

The chairman of CP - Comboios de Portugal said that efforts were being made for CP to be considered as a public administration, in order to take advantage of more funds from the RRP.

The outgoing chairman of CP – Comboios de Portugal – the country’s incumbent railway operator – said on Wednesday that efforts were being made for CP to be considered as a public administration rather than a company, in order to take advantage of more funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP).

“We are trying to work to see if CP can be considered as Public Administration and then we would have less difficulty [in accessing the PRR],” said Nuno Freitas, during a parliamentary hearing at the Commission for Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing, where he was asked to provide clarification on the situation of the delayed salaries of train cleaning workers.

He considered that the RRP “could be an enormous opportunity” for CP “to modernise”, but, without debt restructuring, it is not possible.

“We have been working very closely with the entities – Iapmei, Compete, Ministry of Finance, of Economy, of Infrastructures – however, as it is public, CP’s debt has not been cleared in these two and a half years, in which we made every attempt for this debt clearance [to be done],” he pointed out.

He added that, during that period of time, “it was not possible to solve CP’s debt and CP’s financial autonomy ratio, at this moment, does not allow CP to apply for this type of aid”.

Despite the efforts, Nuno Freitas said that the information that the company has received from “some entities” is that it is considered a company and therefore can only apply for support as a final consumer, i.e. it will have a more limited access.

“We are still trying to resolve this, because somehow we [the legal department] are being told that CP is in a grey area,” he said.

Nuno Freitas announced on Tuesday, in a communication sent to workers, that he will step down at the end of September, three months before the end of his term of office.

Despite the early departure of Nuno Freitas, effective from 1 October, the Board of Directors “remains in office,” the note said, and the leadership of the company is ensured by the vice president, Pedro Moreira, “until further appointment by the Government.

The Minister for Infrastructure and Housing said that CP had lost its best president ever, but said he understood Nuno Freitas’ departure, allegedly due to bureaucratic problems that make the company’s management difficult.

“We lost today the best president CP has ever had in its entire history. Nuno Freitas was leading a revolution in CP, doing an extraordinary job, allowing the State to save millions of euros with the recovery of material. It is a great loss for CP, a great loss for me, it is a great loss for the Portuguese State,” said Minister Pedro Nuno Santos.

“I have known his reasons for a long time, they are not from now. It is very difficult to manage a public company with the rules we have. […] It is absolutely understandable the discouragement of CP’s president,” he added.