Carlos Moedas, mayor of Lisbon, is taking on full responsibility for coordination with the Church over plans for World Youth Day in August. Image: Rodrigo Antunes/ Lusa

Knee-jerk reaction lops around €2 million off World Youth Day costs

Secondary altar-stage scrapped along with government picked ‘organiser’

Lisbon mayor Carlos Moedas has taken-up the reins of the storm swirling over costs for World Youth Day in August, vowing he will be “organising everything directly, from now”.

Gone are plans for a ‘second’ VIP altar stage (in Parque Eduardo VII), and ostensibly gone too is the government’s hand-picked organiser for the event, José Sá Fernandesbrother of the famous defence lawyer Ricardo Sá Fernandes, and a former Socialist city councillor. It is understood that in hiring him, the government promised a payment of €210,000.

Just with these two decisions, Carlos Moedas has shaved roughly €2 million off the bill for which he reiterates “Lisbon won’t be investing more than €35 million”.

By all accounts, Lisbon’s mayor does not mean to stop here. He tells journalists that he has “asked everyone (involved in the €155 million jamboree) to look again at prices and all the projects”. Engineers/ anyone working for the event has orders, confirm reports, to review everything they possibly can in the projects for which the City Council has responsibility.

But Mr Moedas’ declarations have clearly not filtered through to the PS executive.

Today, the prime minister’s minister for parliamentary affairs, Ana Catarina Mendes, insisted that José Sá Fernandes is still the coordinator for the “project group for World Youth Day”.

Contacted by Lusa, Sá Fernandes did not want to comment on the statements made by Carlos Moedas’ deputy, Filipe Anacoreta Correia, who could not have delivered the situation more clearly:

“When the mayor says: “I am now the coordinator” what he is saying is that we do not accept any more so-called coordinators who don’t do anything and don’t help solve anything. The town hall will be coordinating; the town hall will do the job”… which suggests if the government does indeed retain the services of José Sá Fernandes, he may find he has very little to do.

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