Latest 'exposé' ran last night on TVI
Latest 'exposé' ran last night on TVI

Finance minister should clarify appointing infrastructure minister’s wife – PSD

Yet another whiff of suspected cronyism in government

Portugal’s PSD (Social Democratic Party) opposition has urged the finance minister to “fully clarify” the appointment of the infrastructure minister’s wife to his ministry, after TVI reported last night that the appointment has never been published in Diário da República, the government’s official gazette.

TVI’s “Exclusivo” programme described yesterday how Laura Abreu Cravo, wife of the current infrastructure minister João Galamba, has been coordinating the department of financial services at the ministry of finance, led by Fernando Medina, for the past year.

The finance ministry has told the station that Ms Cravo is an official originally from the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM) and is at GPEARI [Office of Planning, Strategy, Evaluation and International Relations] under a public interest assignment agreement.

“Considering Laura Abreu Cravo’s experience and career and the need to better articulate GPEARI’s work in this area, she was invited to remain in the referred Office, exercising from March 2022 functions of monitoring and participating in the European legislative process in the area of financial services, as well as coordinating and representing GPEARI’s participation in technical committees”, said the ministry’s response, published on the television station’s website.

But for social democrat MP Hugo Carneiro, the situation “has to be fully clarified” by Fernando Medina.

“If he doesn’t do so, we will seek for him to do so in Parliament. If necessary, if we have to call him specifically to Parliament because of it, we will. We are not going to be satisfied with the absence of answers, or with silence, which is also very characteristic of the PS and the government,” Carneiro has told Lusa.

Asked whether, in the PSD’s understanding, the appointment should have been published in the Diário da República, Hugo Carneiro said that it certainly looks that way.

The “news is very fresh” and “in light of what TVI presents, the facts seem [to be] quite solid (…) But we want to hear the government’s version. We will not tolerate silences. We want this clarified, is it so or is it not, and then we will draw our own conclusions,” he said.

If the facts are as TVI presents them, they “are very serious”.

And he stressed that he hopes Medina “does not take refuge again in an expression that he likes to use a lot, which is: I didn’t know”. 

To be fair, it is an expression that has been used by several ministers through several recent scandals/ controversies.

Says Lusa, for Carneiro this is a case that involves the wife of another minister, who has held office since March 2022, when Fernando Medina was already finance minister and at the ministry of finance itself, and it is therefore “impossible to say that he does not know”.

“You have to clarify if the law obliges, or if the law does not oblige (…) And if the law obliges, why did the publication in the Diário da República not happen,” he quizzes, referring to the ministry’s explanation that Ms Cravo is a “coordinator, not a director (…) I don’t know if this is a semantic joke, but a person who is a coordinator has to direct something, unless it is a fictitious, phantom position that serves no purpose”.

For political observers this has all the hallmarks of yet another case of PS Socialists ‘looking after their own’ at a time when the country is fast losing faith in its parliamentary leadership.

The TVI programme is presented by investigative journalist Sandra Felgueiras, whose efforts in the past have been very publicly trashed by the current infrastructures minister, who took to Twitter in 2021 to call the contents of a recent Sexta às 9 (RTP) reportmanure“, and the programme itself “a disgusting thing“.

With renewed calls for the dissolution of parliament, and motions of censure of the government, President Marcelo has reiterated his opinion that now is not the moment to add political crisis to the many other crises ongoing. His insistence is that the opposition must prepare itself to stand as a competent alternative, and the government, in the meantime, should ‘get its act together’ (his exact words being  “the government should lead without further episodes that in the eyes of the Portuguese people represent a further wearing down of institutions”).

UPDATE:  Portugal’s finance minister has said in parliament this morning that it is “deplorable” that centre-right PSD (and right wing CHEGA) are using family relationships in political posts as a political weapon. He assured that Laura Cravo was not nominated by the government to her current post.

Ms Cravo has since asked to be relieved of her posting at the finance ministrty, nonetheless.

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