2022 deficit certain not to exceed 1.5%, economic growth at least 6.7% – PM

  • Lusa
  • 15 December 2022

The prime minister António Costa says the deficit "will certainly not exceed 1.5%, as opposed to the 1.9% forecast".

Portugal’s prime minister has revealed that economic growth will be at least 6.7% in 2022, an increase on the government’s forecast of 6.5%, and the deficit “will certainly not exceed 1.5%, as opposed to the 1.9% forecast”.

In an interview with Visão news magazine that goes on newsstands on Thursday, conducted by journalists Filipe Luís and Mafalda Anjos, António Costa defended his economic record since taking office as prime minister in 2015, recalling that in the four years prior to his rule, amending budgets were always necessary.

In counterpoint, Costa stressed that, since he has been head of the executive, there has only been a single “supplementary budget, to respond to the emergency of the pandemic” of Covid-19 and stressed that, when the government’s forecasts were not met, it was because the results “were always for the better”.

“This year, we forecast 6.5% growth and it will be at least 6.7%. We predicted a deficit of 1.9%, but it will certainly not exceed 1.5%,” he said.

The prime minister considered that, due to a “lack of alternative ideas” and unable to “confront the results”, the opposition “finds other arguments by talking about ‘cases'” and repeating “‘ad nauseam’ things that have no relevance to anyone”.

Addressing the cases that have involved members of the government, Costa said that he does not waste “a second” with the controversies and defended that if he had “been doing politics for the commentators” and for the “political-media bubble” he would not have won the elections.

The chief executive considered that the case of the revocation of an order by the infrastructure and housing minister Pedro Nuno Santos on the location of the new Lisbon airport was “the only truly serious one”.

“Fortunately, it was resolved within 24 hours and overcome,” he pointed out.

In this interview, Costa also left criticism of the current leader of the opposition PSD (Social Democratic Party), considering that the attempt for a referendum on euthanasia was a “political number that Luis Montenegro invented to try to solve an internal difficulty of the Portuguese right”.

“It doesn’t make any sense. It is a good example of the state of the opposition: it is not able to present an alternative to the government, when we discuss the state budget, it is not able to attack because of the results achieved in the economy or in different areas and therefore clings to political numbers,” he criticised.

Costa accused the “democratic right” of, “instead of making a clear barrier” to the right-wing Chega Party, “letting itself be contaminated” and being an “objective ally” of the party led by André Ventura, as opposed to the PS (Socialist Party), which has established “a cordon sanitaire”.

“What explains the change in the IL (Liberal Initiative Party) leadership? It is the fact that Cotrim de Figueiredo cannot adapt to this new histrionic style that the IL wants to have, of squealing a little louder than Chega. It just looks ridiculous. Because the ‘cupcakes’, when they try to squeal, become ridiculous before the popular voice that André Ventura can produce”, he said.

In a question related to the execution rate of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), Costa also criticised the current mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, stating that, in the case of projects under the RRP, there are several stages to be completed between the projection and execution of a project.

“Only Carlos Moedas wants to convince the Portuguese that in less than a year he can do the Lisbon drainage plan project?

Asked whether he intends to run for the presidency of the country, António Costa peremptorily refused, stressing that “each one has his vocation, and those who like to be prime minister and have a vocation for that will find it difficult to adapt to a function that is very different”.

“That matter, forget it! Never, ever, at any time. And it’s not never, it’s really never!” he said.

Asked if he would be interested in an executive position in the European institutions, the prime minister argued that he already has that position “inherently” as head of government of a European Union member state, which gives him a seat on the European Council.

“I have a mandate, here, until October 2026. (…) Right now, I have a great mission, which occupies me a lot and leaves me fully fulfilled. In my life, I have never been thinking about what I was going to do next,” he said.

Asked if a departure in 2024 is “totally excluded”, Costa replied: “No doctor told me I had to leave in 2024, and, as I am an optimist, I hope to be in excellent health, at that time, to continue”.