Finance minister accused of “political pyromania” after new gaffe on US TV

Very possibly wrong-footed by speaking in a foreign language, finance minister Mário Centeno has assured CNN television that he will do “everything to avoid” a second bailout for Portugal.

It was a statement that opened a Pandora’s Box of acrimony on national territory, with Opposition MPs accusing Centeno of “political pyromania”.

The MP, who was born in the Algarve, has already been labelled a “disaster” by popular television commentator Luís Marques Mendes (click here) – also a former PSD MP – but in truth today’s storm is the kind that comes in a teacup.

Over the Pond in America, Moody’s ratings agency has responded to the interview “to calm investors’ nerves” and say there is really very little fear of “a new situation of unsustainability” in Portugal, reports noticiasaominuto.

It was more a case of Centeno choosing inappropriate language at a “delicate time” when the government is busy preparing its budget for 2017, and hearing parties ahead of an important EU summit in Bratislava on Friday (click here).

Brussels too appears to be completely unruffled by Centeno’s choice of words, reports Correio da Manhã this morning.

His gaffe has not seen any kind of increase in pressure, as EU leaders are “following the budgetary process for next year” with “tranquility”, says the paper.

Left wing allies at the Bloco de Esquerda have also come to the rescue, suggesting the fuss is all “propaganda” to try and force the government’s hand over the 2017 budget.

“The BE does not value this kind of noise,” said BE coordinator Catarina Martins in Lisbon today. “There is no new data that tells us there is anything to worry about. Thus we think this is just part of the permanent blackmail mechanism underway against budget negotiations to recover salaries”.

Whatever the case, the ‘noise’ will be doing an about turn following the Bratislava summit, when southern countries are expected to push for a clear end to Europe’s insistence on the policies of austerity.

[email protected]