“Historic” State Budget delivered to parliament today amid cacophony of criticism

It’s the news of the day – more for the controversy swirling around it than for the measures themselves. The first State Budget ever to be drawn up at a point where the country has no technical deficit is being delivered to parliament this afternoon after a 10-hour marathon Council of Ministers over the weekend.

But very few people seem to have anything positive to say about it.

President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa – working in Lisbon over the weekend in a shelter for the homeless – stressed that budgets cannot only be about tackling debt. They have to go further, particularly when it comes to sectors like health, justice and reform of the top-heavy and often poorly-performing civil service, not to mention the situation of over 6,000 nationals living “without a roof over their heads”.

TV commentators have slated measures that have been trailed out to the media for showing a “lack of ambition” and, in the case of public sector workers’ salaries, blatant provocation of the unions.

PCP communists, the ‘Liberal Initiative’ (granted only represented by one MP), have both suggested they will be voting against the government’s proposals which won’t come up for general discussion until after the Christmas holidays.

The initial debates will be followed by ‘discussion and voting in speciality’ and then a final decisive vote should come early in February – the idea being that the budget would ‘arrive in the hands of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’ for final approval by February 24.

For the full gamut of measures known this far and the clear troubles looming, see our print edition out on Thursday morning.