Government rules secretaries of state acted in “good faith” accepting GALP’s football freebies

Parliament saw a gratutitous amount of political ‘mud-slinging’ yesterday (Thursday) as the controversy over GALP’s football freebies, extended to various secretaries of state during the Euro championships, came under hot debate.

The final result was that the executive said MPs flown to matches on private jets had “acted in good faith”, while the Opposition claimed the incidents highlighted a “stain of promiscuity” running through the corridors of power.

For reasons unknown, right-wing PSD critics seemed to forget that one of their own enjoyed being ferried in style on the GALP-paid jets.

Algarve MP Cristóvão Norte was keen to separate himself from Socialist colleagues, saying his journey – and that of his wife – had been a gift from a personal friend who worked for GALP, not a straight-freebie from GALP itself.

But, whatever the reasons, the furore has prompted the government to announce a “code of conduct” setting out what it believes to be ‘acceptable’ in terms of gifts to MPs and ministers.

The code sets a value-limit of €150. Anything above this amount would have to be registered and given to the State.

Examining the new code, national tabloid Correio da Manhã claims it is still unclear whether anyone breaking it would face dismissal.

“The document does not specify who will be evaluating the presents”, the paper explains.There also “exceptions” covering instances when the present “is a gift from another country”.

In other words, transparency is still fairly relative, with CM stressing that the code is not retroactive: thus the Euro freebies are not affected by it.

As to how much money the PS secretaries of state did in fact end up reimbursing GALP, as they vowed they would when the controversy erupted (click here), foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva has told CM: “I am not an accountant”.

PHOTO: The three secretaries of state who enjoyed GALP’s football freebies this summer are now bound, under the terms of Portugal’s Code of Administrative Proceedings to have nothing to do with any future decisions involving GALP, explains Observador website. This could prejudice their performance in future, says Observador, as Rocha Andrade (on the left) is the secretary of state for Fiscal Affairs – and Galp has a number of fiscal issues outstanding with the government, and João Vasconcelos (in the middle) represents Industry, of which GALP is Portugal’s largest. Jorge Costa Oliveira (on left) could also find his position compromised, considering he is secretary of state for internationalisation, and GALP is one of the country’s businesses with “strong roots overseas”, says the website.