Algarve “gets short end of the stick” in new municipalities list

A new set of rules defining which municipalities qualify for the list of the least densely populated – ‘Municípios de Baixa Densidade’ – has been labelled “an attack on the Algarve” by the mayor of Vila Real de Santo António, Luís Gomes.

In a statement sent to newspapers, Gomes says that many of the region’s “most fragile” boroughs have been left off the list – and will thus face extra difficulties receiving community funding.

In terms of the Algarve, only Aljezur, Vila do Bispo, Monchique, Castro Marim and Alcoutim made the list – with VRSA being the only municipality of the lower Guadiana area to be left off.

As Público explains, the 164 boroughs on the list will get priority when bidding for community and national funding programmes.

The goal, according to the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities (ANMP), is to “attenuate the differences” between the country’s inland and coastal regions.

But according to Gomes, the current list does exactly the opposite. “This proposal has done nothing more than contribute to an increase in national and regional inequalities, leaving out many municipalities that could use this classification to obtain specific community funds and revitalise their rural areas.”

He added that the proposal creates “discriminatory criteria that should be corrected as soon as possible”.

Says ANMP, the main criteria used to define who made the list includes the municipalities’ “population density”, as well as other factors such as their “socioeconomic situation and accessibilities”.

This topic is expected to be discussed at the next Algarve Municipalities Association (AMAL) meeting on April 13.