Confusion as Portugal’s new fiscal “pardon” is (and then isn’t) extended to GALP

Fresh from the controversy of “Galp’s football flight freebies” handed-out to politicians during last summer’s Euro 2016 championships, secretary of state for fiscal affairs Fernando Rocha Andrade is back in trouble.

He was quoted, albeit obliquely, yesterday as telling parliament that the government’s new “fiscal amnesty” would apply to anyone, or any company, in litigation with tax authorities – even Galp, which is battling over €240 million owed to the State for its “extraordinary contribution on energy”.

Opposition MPs immediately fell on Rocha Andrade’s admission, calling it “The Galp pardon” and drawing yet more inference to the real reason behind Galp’s chartering of private jets to ferry “friends” to and from Euro 2016 games in France.

Newspapers last night were putting to bed stories affirming that Galp “can benefit from the new fiscal pardon”. But then came the ‘bombshell’ in Público shortly after 9am this morning that Rocha Andrade has (yet again) got things wrong.

After being forced to admit that the football freebie bunfight sent the wrong message (click here), he has now heard his immediate superiors at the Ministry of Finance affirm that the pardon “does not apply to extraordinary contributions, due to their very nature”.

Extraordinary contributions on energy are obligations, explained the ministry – not tax or social security debts, which are the focuses of PERES, the name given for the programme of reduction of State debt.

In a statement sent out to the nation’s press too late for many deadlines, the ministry added that though described as an amnesty, PERES is not really an amnesty at all. It is simply a programme designed to let people and companies pay their debts in instalments.

Thus, the ball is back in Galp’s court, and very possibly in Rocha Andrade’s mouth at the same time.