50,000 passenger fines "on hold" as taxman struggles with new system

Portugal’s public transportation companies have registered nearly 50,000 fines this year that they cannot charge until the tax authority ‘Autoridade Tributária’ (AT) implements a new charging system that it has been promising since January.
This means that the companies are owed millions of euros which they simply cannot get.
The problem stems from the fact that the issuing of fines – which used to be the responsibility of the transportation companies – was last year taken over by AT.
The goal, said the Government, was to “reduce the number of passengers travelling on public transport without paying”.
But AT’s new charging system is eight months late – and when it will be ready is still anyone’s guess.
The Ministry of Finance says it is “working to solve the problem”, but the president of the tax workers’ union Paulo Ralha claims the delay is due to “incompatibilities with computer applications” as well as a significant “lack of staff”.
And while AT scrambles to get everything working, the reality is that the fines keep piling in.
CP – Portugal’s train operator – alone is believed to be owed €2.7 million in a total of 16,767 fines registered in the first half of this year.
Lisbon’s public transportation company Carris registered 12,680 fines between January and August, but it is taking care to pocket the money ‘on the spot’.
The company says it is holding it, and will hand everything over to AT once the authority “has solved its issues”. The money will then be divided between the Government (40%), AT (35%), the public transportation companies (20%) and the driving licensing authority (5%).
However, Carris admits it still does not know when this will happen as the Government’s plan is just not working.
Another ‘no-no’ is the fact that despite the plan to reduce the number of people travelling without paying, statistics provided by transport companies show the results are negligible.
Carris and Lisbon’s Metro, for example, saw the number of freeloaders drop by a mere 1.2% and 0.6% respectively compared to last year, reports Público.
by Michael Bruxo