Refuting the suggestion that this all ties in ‘very conveniently’ with the fact that 2017 is the year for local elections, the government has just announced that it will be paying out a total of €78.6 million in ‘interest on taxes’ owed to borough councils from as far back as 12 years ago.
Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra and Vila Nova da Gaia will be doing best from the deal – but in the Algarve, Loulé, Albufeira and Portimão will all be seeing millions of euros conveniently winging its way into municipal coffers.
Even better, government minister Eduardo Cabrita (full title: assistant minister to the prime minister) has made it clear that tax interest retention (relating to IMI rates and IMT stamp duty) will no longer be ‘sat on’ by the authorities.
Once 2017’s giveaway has been sorted, payments “will enter a course of normality”, he told Público, which stressed that he “rejected” the notion that the decision had been made in the “context” of looming elections.
For now, the totals to be received by the country’s 308 councils are being publicised in rough figures. Loulé is among the top five (all of which receive millions: from Loulé’s €2,483,000 to Lisbon’s €6,009,000), while Portimão and Albufeira are both in line for “more than a million”.
Other Algarve councils (Lagos, Lagoa, Silves and Tavira) can expect between €500,000 and €1 million, while almost all other coastal areas will be getting payments ranging from €100,000 to €500,000.
The situation, Cabrita told Público, is much more based on the government’s “preparation for wider access to fiscal information”, which should have been in force since 2007.
PM “dedicates first term of 2017 to decentralisation”
In line with releasing Lisbon’s iron-grip on developments up and down the country, prime minister António Costa gave a speech on January 2 declaring that the first half of new year would be “dedicated” to a programme of decentralisation from the State.
He stressed the first steps are clear in the approval of a new system for the make-up of CCDRs (local commissions for regional coordination and development), giving much wider powers to borough mayors.