IN JUST three years, two Portuguese governments succeeded in blowing 12.8 billion euros in the day to day running of the country.
The various ministries alone spent 216.3 million euros, which would have been enough to build three airports at Ota or 10 Vasco da Gama bridges. If the 12.8 billion euros divided by three for each year (4.3 billion euros) is then divided by 10 million citizens, this means that each tax paying person living and working in Portugal had to fork out 430 euros a year to pay for the running of the government and its various ministerial departments.
The lion share of the cash went on salaries and expenses for cabinet bosses, ministry heads and payments to strategic partners and contracts for specialists. However, according to the state’s exchequer accounts department – Tribunal de Contas – the alarming truth is that there is a total lack of control over government spending at a management level.
“This is the first time that the Tribunal de Contas has carried out an in-depth audit of the government ministerial departments and the results should certainly contribute towards finding ways of cutting down such expenses,” said a source from the Tribunal de Contas.
The audit report was particularly critical in relation to the lack of control over expenses and staff contracts for services rendered. “There is absolutely no statistical information in relation to contracted staff and consultants attached to ministry offices, neither is it known how effectively the staff is doing their jobs or even if the jobs are necessary,” the report went on.
Another and no less serious problem was the fact that there were grave discrepancies between what was officially recorded in the Directorate-General for the Budget and the accounts made by the various ministries for such services.
Not only that, contracted positions for ministerial advisors and collaborators often went unpublished in the Diário da República, which registers government employment contracts and advertises positions. This suggests that people were contracted indefinitely through insider contacts with no outside checks and control to call to account.
The Tribunal de Contas also revealed that collaborators and freelancers were “earning more than the actual Prime Minister on unlimited contracts”, with no apparent selection criteria or any kind of performance evaluation or calling to account.
Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins, who heads the Tribunal de Contas, has recommended the fixing of ceilings on both the number of collaborators per ministerial department and a maximum stated salary.
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