Government returns from summer to deal with controversy

THE RESTRUCTURING of the energy sector, Lisbon’s new airport at Ota and the TGV are three issues on the table that the government intends to tackle this autumn. Other issues include the creation of the Iberian energy market (MIBEL) and the further or complete privatisation of ANA (airport authority), TAP Portugal, EDP (state electricity company), Águas de Portugal, Galp Energia, Portucel and REN.

Despite the Council of Ministers not having set a date, the restructuring model for the energy sector is likely to go ahead later this month, according to an official source at the Economics Ministry.

Related to the energy sector is the MIBEL question, in which the Iberian market was given the green light from July 1, but various problems and obstacles that have arisen from Spain impeded the full implementation of the proposed common Iberian energy market. Both Ota and the TGV are to be discussed in detail by the government and parliament this autumn, following the government’s promise to present the results of two studies on the projects.

However, economists warn that both these public spending projects are likely to prevent the government from successfully tackling the ballooning public spending deficit, standing at over six per cent, which the European Union wishes to see reduced to around three per cent.

On the question of the TGV – the high speed rail link between Madrid and Lisbon/Porto and Lisbon – and the new airport at Ota, former Finance Minister, Medina Carreira, claims that the projects will indebt the country unnecessarily for the foreseeable future. He believes the money would be better spent on more pressing matters such as reforming the state – education, judiciary, social security – and modernising its information technology systems.

In the area of privatisation, the current Finance Minister, Teixeira dos Santos, has earmarked 400 million euros for the privatisation of various State held companies.