The departure comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding the now former secretary of state for treasury, who before joining the government had received a golden handshake of €500,000 from TAP.
The office of Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, has announced that he has accepted the resignation of the minister of infrastructure and housing, Pedro Nuno Santos.
The departure comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding the now former secretary of state for treasury, Alexandra Reis, who before joining the government had received a golden handshake of €500,000 from TAP, the national flag carrier, on leaving the airline to head NAV, the air traffic regulator. Reis was sacked on Tuesday by the minister of finance, less than a month after taking office.
“I accepted the resignation request that was presented to me by the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing,” reads the statement released on Wednesday night, minutes after Santos himself had announced that he had submitted his resignation to the prime minister.
Costa thanked the minister “for the dedication and commitment with which he exercised governmental functions throughout these seven years, both in the areas of his direct responsibility and in the definition of the Government’s general political orientation.
“I highlight his decisive contribution to the creation of conditions of political stability as Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs [at the time when the Socialist Party lacked a majority and had a parliamentary agreement with other left parties] and the energy with which he assumed his current duties, namely in railway and housing policies,” adds the note from the prime minister.
Costa also stresses that “from a personal point of view” he remembers with “great esteem the camaraderie of these years of working together.”
In a statement released earlier by the office of the minister of infrastructure, Santos explained that “given the public perception and collective feeling generated around” the TAP case, he decided “to take political responsibility and present his resignation.
“Following the explanations given by TAP, which led the Minister for Infrastructure and Housing and the Finance Minister to send the case for consideration by the CMVM [securities regulator] and IGF [finance inspectorate], the Secretary of State for Infrastructure [Hugo Santos Mendes] decided, given the circumstances, to submit his resignation,” the note also states.
On Saturday, Correio da Manhã reported that Alexandra Reis had received €500,000 on leaving early, in February, the post of executive director of the air carrier, when her term still had two years to run. In June, she was appointed by the government to head NAV, and towards the end of the year was tapped as secretary of state for treasury.
Following that report, the ministers of finance and of infrastructure asked TAP for clarification, and the prime minister himself admitted that he had been unaware of the details of Reis’s background and payout.