Ministry of Agriculture under fire (again) for “lack of direction and incompetence
CAP's president Eduardo Oliveira e Sousa has been and remains one of the environment minister's most relentless critics. Photo: Lusa

Ministry of Agriculture under fire (again) for “lack of direction and incompetence”

Farmers’ federation fears ministry being systematically dismantled, until it disappears altogether

CAP, the Portuguese federation of farmers, has acted with dismay and concern that the position of Secretary of State for Agriculture – left empty by a recent scandal – has now simply disappeared.

Instead of trying to find a suitable alternative to the woman who stayed in the post for all of 26-hours, the decision has been made to merge the department into the secretariat for fisheries.

This comes hot-on-the heels of similar decisions to remove responsibilities from the ministry. For example, regional directorates have been axed (with no prior warning to farmers) and matters concerning animals have moved to the ministry of environment.

For CAP which already has a testy relationship with agriculture minister Maria do Céu Antunes, this all reveals the “complete lack of direction and evident incompetence that reigns in the Ministry of Agriculture”.

CAP blames the ministry for being “unable to make up for the departure of the previous Secretary of State, Rui Martinho” and failing “miserably in the choice of Carla Alves to occupy the post”, which ended almost as soon as it began.

In a press release issued today, CAP concludes that the Agriculture portfolio needs technical competence and political capacity but, “at the moment, it is empty of these requirements.

The farmers’ representatives stress that “the blatant technical incompetence, the absolute ignorance of the functioning of the Ministry and the more than obvious lack of political weight of the Minister Antunes upsets and harms the sector, making farmers’ lives more difficult”.

CAP also states that the minister, by action or omission, “continues to act deliberately against those she supervises, resulting in serious damage and losses to national agriculture and forestry”.

With the “consummate” end of the Secretary of State for Agriculture, CAP anticipates “what would appear to be an inevitability: the total disappearance of the Ministry of Agriculture“, thus placing the entire national agricultural sector in second place on the list of the Government’s political priorities, writes Expresso.

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