Plan 2020-2030: Costa Silva’s “strategic vision” for Portugal to be approved by Council of Ministers

Plan 2020-2030 – the vision of oil boss António Costa Silva, brought in to help steer Portugal back to economic recovery (click here) – has emerged from weeks of public consultation and is on the way for approval by the Council of Ministers on Thursday.

In a presentation at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon today (the Gulbenkian being the former owners of Partex Oil & Gas which still employs Costa Silva), prime minister António Costa – whose idea it was to task Costa Silva with the formulation of a recovery strategy – said this is a document that will be executed by different governments, possibly even by different politics.

What is essential is that it does what it sets out to do – with all the help of the €45 billion European ‘bazooka’ of post-Coronavirus funding coming Portugal’s way.

The cornerstones have been given under 10 specific headings:
● indispensable infrastructure networks;
● the qualification of the population, acceleration of digital transition, digital infrastructure, science and technology;
● health and the future;
● Social State;
● reindustrialisation of the country;
● industrial reconversion;
● energetic transition and electrification of the economy,
● territorial cohesion agriculture and forestry;
● new paradigm for cities and mobility;
● culture, service, tourism and commerce.

These areas have been bandied about throughout the summer, but what ‘transformations’ will come remain unclear.

What is clear is that two European ‘instruments’ created at the historic summit earlier this summer are pivotal from the point of finance: the €1.074 billion pluriannual 2021-2027 budget and the €750 billion Recovery and Resilience Fund.

Following the plan’s approval, it will go to parliament for debate and finally be presented to Brussels mid-October.

Stresses Jornal Económico, public consultation saw over 1,000 ‘contributions’ to Costa Silva’s vision, which resulted in the formulation of six ‘addenda’ covering the petrochemical cluster, deep-sea mining, biomass plants, energetic efficiency, tourism and commerce and services.

Costa Silva told the presentation on Tuesday that in his opinion the contributions helped ‘improve’ the quality of the overall strategy.

Regarding the petrochemical cluster, the idea is to ‘reinforce’ Portugal’s international presence by capturing investment and ‘substituting imports’.

Concerns that deep-sea mining could have extremely harmful effects on the sustainability of marine ecosystems have seen the assurance that exploration of marine resources will only go forwards with ‘guarantees of safety’.

“Exploration in the sea can be a source of wealth but only if done on the basis of informed decisions that safeguard natural heritage”, Costa Silva stressed.

But he conceded that Portugal hasn’t yet reached the nadir in terms of this current crisis. Things will get worse before they get better – and “we can’t have any illusions, we’re going to see companies that cannot run the course of this pandemic”.

And as a crisis, this is also “just the tip of the iceberg”, he warned. We have an environmental and “very serious” climate crisis underneath.

“When there is an epidemic like this, it’s not the market that can save us, it’s the State, public services and the State Health System”, he concluded. “I hope there is the humility to assume this historic defeat that reality has imposed on ultra-liberal ideas”.