Ministerial offices ignore austerity

According to a report by the Court of Auditors, the spending by Portuguese ministerial offices has not decreased in recent years.

The Report nº36/2012 – 2nd Section, made available by the Court of Auditors to the press, reveals that “there is no evidence that working expenses from government member offices have been reduced”.

The report is a follow-up inspection to a set of recommendations by the Court of Auditors presented in an earlier report about public office expenses from 2007, based on data from 2003-05. Now, the Court of Auditors informs that “in the period between 2007 and 2011 there were still some of the previously detected anomalies”, especially in the areas of “composition and recruitment” within the ministerial offices, as well as the “remuneration system and expense reporting” regarding government members.

The report also recommends more transparency regarding the expense budgets for the offices of ministers and secretariats of state, claiming that “the inexistence of a maximum ceiling for ministerial office expenses and its continued shadiness is a situation that should be solved, in the name of rigour and budgetary transparency”.

The Court of Auditors mentions in the report that “in the current legal system, as in previous ones, there are no criteria about the attribution of ‘perks’ such as the use of public credit cards, vehicles or phone expenses”.

From the recommendations which the government complied with, the report says “results will only become significant with their implementation”, considering that the current laws “are not enough” to stabilise or reduce ministerial offices expenses.