Pedro Nuno Santos is one of the PS militants tipped as a possible replacement for António Costa, expected to quit his position as leader of the party after the 2023 elections

EU bazooka funding for housing in €1.6 billion ‘hole’: minister challenged

Infrastructures and housing minister Pedro Nuno Santos is being challenged on how the government appears to have already massively ‘overspent’ part of the EU funding bazooka – the lifeline designed to help Portugal recover from the collateral damage of the pandemic.

PSD opposition MPs want to understand how he can comply with a promise to finance housing in the 1st Right (1º Direito) habitation programme “when the EU funds destined to this end already show a hole of €1.6 billion”.

Talking to tabloid Correio da Manhã, PSD MP Filipa Roseta explained that with the agreements signed with local authorities “there are more than 30,000 families on the list”.

But the bazooka entitlement only envisaged 26,000.

In financial terms, says Ms Roseta, there is a €1.6 billion hole.

“This is why we are calling the minister. To explain to us who is going to pay for this and explain the lack of criteria in the attribution of these funds”.

What does she mean by lack of criteria, asks the paper: “The minister said that funding would be by order of arrival”, she explained, which seems a less than ‘efficient’ policy.

“It would have been more efficient to first evaluate people’s needs and then distribute the homes according to who needs them most”.

For the time being, agreements with 87 municipalities are in place for the construction, rehabilitation and acquisition of social housing covering these 30,000 families.

By PSD calculations, the total sum payable for these agreements comes to €2.8 billion (when there is only €1.2 billion available).

A source for Pedro Nuno Santos’ ministry has attempted to refute the PSD arguments – but final explanations will only come when he addresses parliament, sometime in October, says CM.

Focus over the next few weeks will be on electioneering ahead of the municipal elections.

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