The prospect of getting through public life without gaining kilos must have been weighing on the minds of MPs earlier this week as they were presented with yet another blow-out to mark the Council of Ministers on the sea. But guest of honour, outgoing President Cavaco Silva, is proof that it can be done without gaining so much as a few ounces.
The dapper 76-year-old was looking every bit as trim as when he took up his presidency a decade ago.
He sat down to a lobster soup flavoured with chestnuts and ‘favas’ (broadbeans), followed by a main course of golden bream with squid, endive and green beans, and a dessert of goats cheese with pastéis de nata (Portugal’s legendary custard tarts).
Breaking bread with the government he swore in under so much acrimony was clearly made much easier, thanks to the expertise of chef José Avillez of Lisbon’s Belcanto – one of the capital’s most expensive restaurants.
And prime minister António Costa “promised” to “give continuity to the designation of the sea that the President tried to construct during his 10-year-mandate”, wrote national tabloid Correio da Manhã.
Cavaco appealed for “investment in the sector and reiterated the potential of the sea for creating jobs”, said the paper, while the government “approved the fusion ports administrative authorities in Lisbon, Setúbal and Sesimbra, Strategy 2020 (beefed by 520 million euros worth of EC funds) the “Fundo Azul” and an across-the-board charge for ports (see below).
According to CM, the gathering also served to rubber-stamp a plan to hire 69 people to ‘safeguard human life’: 26 this year.
PORTUGAL VOWS TO BRING BACK THE MERCHANT NAVY
Minister of the Sea Ana Paula Vitorino explained that one of the cornerstones of Portugal’s Strategy 2020 is to bring back the merchant navy.
Other ‘challenges’ centre on sovereignty, knowledge and the economy of the sea.
“We are going to leave theories and start applying everything that we know”, she said, to bring the many studies undertaken into the importance of the sea for developing the national economy at last to life.
The new navy will be pivotal in providing new jobs while financial investments in new activities “connected to the economy of the sea” through the “Fundo Azul” should double income from the sea by the end of the decade, she added, stressing other ministry plans are to “support scientific investigation, competitivity of firms in the sector, aquaculture, the production of energy and the development of blue biotechnolgy”.
Cavaco Silva will be standing down as president of Portugal next Wednesday as the man described as his “complete opposite”, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa takes over in Belém.