In an interview with Barlavento newspaper over fall-out from the new State Budget, Algarve PS deputy Miguel Freitas has predicted municipal chaos for the region, with services grinding to a halt and less money for already cash-strapped parishes.
Talking after a meeting with the Algarve’s 16 borough councils, Freitas claimed the 2014 State Budget will snatch at least €3 million from funds destined for the region – making this the district that most loses out on a national level.
He stressed the way cuts have been proposed will strongly penalise smaller boroughs, leading to a possible “paralysing” of services and in some cases reduction of money passing to parish councils.
“This strategy of penalisations is just another form of blackmail that the government has written into its plans for state reform,” he said.
In Aljezur, particularly, Freitas predicts big problems for the borough’s 16-year-old buses used to transport children to and from school, as they need replacing but there is no available money – and thus the €150,000 cut “will have an effect on the functions and competence of the borough”.
The Socialist deputy further lambasted the “blind, absurd obligation for all councils to reduce staff members by 2%”, saying the government is simply paving the way for a short-sighted path of staff reductions.
Elaborating on this point in an interview with Público newspaper, Freitas calculated job losses of between 200-300 people, for a region that already suffers “the highest unemployment in the country”.
The whole plan is “inadmissible”, Freitas claimed, adding that he had already heard from councils telling him they would be forced to contract outside labour to handle services, but that this would implicate extra costs.
“The government has created a law whereby it can sack workers by way of ‘amicable severance agreements’ and now it is obliging municipalities to travel the same path,” he said.
At the same meeting with AMAL (the association of borough councils) Freitas spoke of concern over the partial closure of social security offices throughout the region.