Finance minister “evidently” has the conditions to remain in the government, says PM

  • Lusa
  • 5 January 2023

The Liberal Initiative's no-confidence motion in the government was debated this Thursday.

Portugal’s prime minister said on Thursday that the finance minister “evidently” has the conditions to remain in the government, responding to PSD criticism of Fernando Medina’s results, adding that he has never been afraid to go to elections.

In the debate on the Liberal Initiative’s no-confidence motion in the government, PSD parliamentary leader Joaquim Miranda Sarmento accused the government led by António Costa of “falling apart and being in the process of collapsing”.

“The Portuguese trusted you to govern alone and received impoverishment and instability. Instability because you gave the Portuguese the Christmas present they neither wanted nor deserved – a government crisis”, he accused.

Miranda Sarmento insisted on the PSD’s criticism of Finance Minister Fernando Medina, whom he accuses of having lost political authority after he appointed Alexandra Reis, who months earlier had received half a million euros to leave TAP before her term of office was due to end as secretary of state for the treasury. She has since been dismissed.

“What political authority does your finance minister have? How can you trust him to ensure good management and control of public money? Having an incompetent, frivolous and irresponsible finance minister can happen, it is a bad choice, but keeping him in office has only one person responsible,” he said, referring to António Costa.

The PSD leader also gave the prime minister some advice: “Either you change your life, or the Portuguese will change their government”.

In response, Costa said that “this year marks 30 years” since he first went to elections, which he then lost.

“Then I have given my face several times in elections, sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. I appreciate the advice, I have never been afraid to show my face to go to elections, have you ever?” he asked.

As to the question of whether he considered that Medina had the conditions to remain in government, the prime minister insisted. “Of course he does, otherwise, what would he be doing sitting here on the government benches?”.

He added that “a good reason” for the Portuguese to continue to trust the finance minister is that he entered office in the middle of 2022, against a backdrop of war, inflationary crisis and unpredictability, and reached the end of the year with a lower-than-expected reduction in debt and deficit.

“These are the results that this finance minister and this government achieved last year,” he concluded.