As the long-awaited moment in parliament approaches – the time when the minority government’s four-year programme comes up for debate in a house where it is outnumbered – news today in the most widely read newspaper in Portugal is that there will be more money for everyone in 2016, “no matter which parties are in power”.
As Correio da Manhã explains: “The devolution of part of the IRS surcharge and of salary cuts in the Public Sector, as well as the 50% cut to the CES (special solidarity contribution) for retired people with pensions over €4,611, will guarantee that there is more money at the end of the month for all Portuguese people” (and indeed foreigners paying into the Portuguese system).
Meeting for yesterday’s Council of Ministers, the minority coalition “approved three proposals of the law maintaining austerity measures”, adds the paper, “but in a gentler way, public sector workers will see their 20% salary cut returned on January 1, as well as the IRS surcharge reduced by 25%. CES will fall 50%, but stay imposed on the energy, banking and pharmaceutical sectors. The Finance minister explained this was to avoid a financial hole of €1.5 billion”.
What happens on Monday, when the government’s new programme comes up for debate is anyone’s guess.
Certainly, the minority coalition is doing everything it can to hold on to power, preparing for “road shows” up and down the country to explain its programme in the event that it is overturned by left wingers next week.
As Diário de Notícias explains, “the two parties (in the coalition) want to show that it doesn’t follow that if the government’s programme is vetoed, the coalition is automatically dissolved (as it will continue united until the swearing in of a new government)”.
With behind-the-scenes political manoeuvring ongoing throughout the weekend, Socialist MEP Francisco Assis is also being busy in his attempts to show there are elements in the Socialist party that are against any alliance with more extreme left-wingers, Bloco de Esquerda and PCP.
Meantime, CM explains, that with a left-wing alliance Portuguese people would see more money coming into their pockets, more quickly.
As opposed to the current government’s four-year programme to reduce the IRS surcharge, for example, “an eventual PS/BE/PCP government proposes a more rapid timetable of two years”.
For public sector workers also, left wingers want to see salaries returning to their former levels in 25% tranches over three-monthly periods.
Pensions, too, would be “unfrozen” at the lower levels, giving retired people an extra €2 a month.
While the nation holds its breath, the final contract over the sale of TAP has been delayed indefinitely, reports TVI, and the Portuguese competitivity forum has manifested “concern” over the political stability that continues to exist in Portugal.