Passos hits back at IMF and dismisses dismal data on poverty in Portugal

Passos Coelho has hit back at the broadside fired by the IMF last Friday, saying Portugal will complete the year within its deficit target, no matter what anyone says.

As reported two months ago (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/troika-says-portugal%E2%80%99s-budget-sums-%E2%80%9Csimply-don%E2%80%99t-add-up%E2%80%9D), troika lenders have failed to be convinced that Portugal can reduce its deficit to the 2.7% agreed for this year’s State Budget.

Last Friday, the IMF reiterated this opinion. According to the troika lender, Portugal’s likelihood of getting its deficit under the 3% mark is unlikely to come before 2018.

The IMF cites Portugal’s poor performance when it comes to structural reforms – saying it has only implemented 36% of what was originally agreed.

The fund was also highly critical of Portugal’s failure to substitute cuts thrown out by the Constitutional Court.

But Passos Coelho has come out fighting – effectively saying the IMF doesn’t know what it is talking about.

Hours after the damning report hit the headlines, he told parliament it was based on “a reality that no longer exists”.

He said much the same over the INE statistics published last week that showed Portugal had returned to the levels of poverty experienced 10 years ago.

Público carried the news, claiming that today, like in 2003 and 2004, one in five people in Portugal was poor, and the risk of poverty and social exclusion increasing.

Passos was having none of it. “The news is an echo of what we have passed through,” he told a meeting of charitable institutions in Santarém on Saturday. “It is not the situation in which we live today.”

INE’s report came from data collected in 2013, and some also in 2014, reports Público. But Passos Coelho stressed 2013 was Portugal’s “most difficult year” and that prospects now are better, even though he said he did not want to say “that there aren’t people, even today very much in need, families who are very vulnerable”.

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]