Catarina Martins
Bloco de Esquerda's Catarina Martins says a parliamentary inquiry is 'essential' to legitimise the government. Image: Rodrigo Antunes/ Lusa

Knives sharpen: Inquiry into management of TAP to go ahead

PS Socialists approve Left Bloc proposal for parliamentary commission

TAP’s board of directors owes parliament and the Portuguese people an explanation”: these were the words today of PS Socialist parliamentary leader Eurico Brilhante Dias as he addressed journalists to say the government will be giving the green light to a Bloco de Esquerda (Left Bloc) request for a parliamentary inquiry.

It is the first real sign that knives are sharpening in the ongoing fallout of the golden handshake debacle.

A further request from CHEGA (also for a parliamentary commission) did not get the PS greenlight, with Mr Brilhante Dias commenting that his party “sees no reason” for it, in light of the Left Bloc’s initiative.

“We have a proposal that seems acceptable to us from the Left Bloc (…)  We in the PS considered proposing a commission of enquiry. But considering the framework of the proposal of the Left Bloc, its scope and the set of questions raised therein, the PS parliamentary Group believes that it is more convenient for us to obtain other answers – answers that are not possible within the framework of conventional hearings – to make the proposal submitted by the BE viable”.

On this point, Brilhante Dias stressed that, as far as TAP is concerned: “I have always said that a cautious analysis would be made, not only of the texts” of the proposals for the commission of enquiry, “but also of information gathered”.

“There is information still to be collected, which is not available. It is important to clarify the remuneration framework, the formation of the compensation (paid to former Secretary of State for the Treasury Alexandra Reis), and the form of selection, always safeguarding that TAP is a fundamental company, which is undergoing a restructuring plan that has allowed for better results and that these better results will make it possible to recover remuneration. That is why the PS considers it convenient, pertinent and transparent that this proposal for a parliamentary commission of enquiry by the Left Bloc takes place with the support of Socialist MPs.” 

For the time being, the Left Bloc’s questions have not been made public. The party is known for getting right to the point of inconvenient issues. Its coordinator Catarina Martins has already said that a parliamentary commission is ‘essential’ to legitimise the government that has ploughed €3.2 billion of taxpayers’ money into TAP.

She told journalists in Lisbon earlier this week, that it is “a necessity of democracy to have explanations”, as well as being a way of achieving accountability of TAP and the whole process of public intervention.

Everyone seems to have quietly glossed over the fact that the PS tried unsuccessfully little more than a week ago to say the political implications of this scandal were over. The party also refused mounting calls for a parliamentary hearing of the principal players involved, including TAP CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener.