Costa promises Portugal’s businesses €100 million in the first 100 days of government

Prime Minister António Costa pledged €100 million to national businesses in the first 100 days of his new Socialist government when he presented his party’s programme before parliament yesterday.

The new PM vowed his executive was going “full steam ahead” to ensure businesses get the most out of the Portugal 2020 programme.

Funded by Europe, Portugal 2020 sets out to kick-start the economy by ploughing over €21 billion into business projects.

Presented during the last government – and hugely criticised for the way regions were ‘classified’, leaving areas like the Algarve incapable of seeking funding for anything but exceptional reasons – 600 businesses have already presented bids for funding, “without having seen a single euro”, a source for Costa is quoted as telling national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

Eight months after the so-called launch of Portugal 2020, “support has only been given to 15 companies”, Costa told MPs yesterday.

What should be considered “a fundamental piece in plans to stimulate investment” seems to have been held up by bureaucracy.

“There is already €973 million in approved projects, but no one has received a thing. Where is the money? No-one knows”, the source added.

Costa’s performance in parliament was described by Diário de Notícias as a way of “trying to obtain a state of grace, with a hand full of promises”.

Next week he is due to meet with social partners to “appreciate the proposal to increase the minimum wage to €600 a month by the end of the legislature, starting with €530 in 2016” and there is much more in the melting pot – not least the second re-drawing of the disastrous judicial map, which the new Justice Minister Francisca Van Dunem has said completely marginalises the country’s poorest.

The fireworks have well and truly begun, with PSD-CDS-PP opposition forces already likening Costa’s new Finance minister Mário Centeno to Groucho Marx.

But on a more serious note for now, Costa has “guaranteed” that the reversion of the former administration’s transport privatisations in Lisbon and Porto “will have no costs to the State”.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com