Wherever Portugal's PM goes, and however broadly he smiles, protests and contention are never too far behind. Image in Aveiro today: Paulo Novais/ Lusa
Wherever Portugal's PM goes, and however broadly he smiles, protests and contention are never too far behind. Image in Aveiro today: Paulo Novais/ Lusa

PM awaits final report on TAP to assess political fallout

Parliamentary inquiry has now ended; final conclusions being prepared

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, is awaiting the final conclusions of the report of the TAP commission of inquiry to know if there are any political consequences to be drawn, reports Lusa today.

Mr Costa has stressed the government “is calm and unworried“.

“I don’t know what the report says. I’m waiting for the final conclusions to know if there are any other political consequences to draw (from it),” António Costa told journalists in Aveiro after being pressed on the specific case of infrastructures minister João Galamba, whose resignation he refused in May, but whose political relevance has been very publicly trashed ever since.

“Pointing out that he has not yet read the preliminary report, António Costa said the government is calm about the conclusions”, writes Lusa.

“We have been absolutely calm and unworried from the beginning,” the PM went on, stressing there are still steps to be taken until the final conclusions, from the presentation and discussion of amendment proposals by parliamentary groups to the approval of the final report.

Faced with journalists’ insistence however, Costa stuck to his guns, saying ‘this is not the time to pronounce on the report.

“This report has only now been presented by the rapporteur and distributed to the parliamentary groups. The parliamentary groups will certainly present proposals for amendments. Parliament will discuss them, and then finally, there will be a day when parliament approves a final report. At that time, I will say something if there is something to say“, he said.

The head of government also said that the main mission of the government is to ensure that Portugal does not lose the major strategic asset that is TAP, suggesting the TAP restructuring plan, approved by the European Commission, “has gone well so far”.

“The results of TAP last year were much better than what was foreseen in the restructuring plan. I believe that they were very close to what was expected for the 2024/2025 phase at the end of the programme,” he noted.

This has been countered by unions involved, saying the savings were largely made from salary cuts and dismissals

In relation to the reprivatisation process, Costa said the first step has already been taken with the selection of the entities to carry out the assessment, and soon the decree law will be approved by the cabinet to open the process.

The preliminary report of the parliamentary commission of inquiry into the political supervision of TAP’s management, drawn up by PS deputy Ana Paula Bernardo, concluded that there is no link between the departure of Alexandra Reis and her appointment as chairwoman of NAV, nor was there any pressure or political intervention from those in charge, concludes Lusa.

Again, this is an overview that has already been hotly contested by former CEO of the company, Christine Ourmières-Widener, currently said to be suing the government for over €3 million…

In her conclusions,  Ana Paula Bernardo is quoted as saying “there are no situations of material relevance that show a practice of interference in the day-to-day management of the company by the ministries“.

Thus this report will almost certainly add to the controversies that have been swirling around TAP for the last few months. SIC Notícias has already interviewed one political analyst who said it “will dishearten anyone who reads it…”

Luís Delgado went as far as to say it is a complete whitewash. “It is a total disappointment”, he told this morning’s news anchor. “We have an absolute majority of PS Socialists in government, and the report will be what the PS wants. First it has to be voted in the committee, there has to be a majority and it has to go to the plenary, there is an absolute majority. What the report does is a whitewashing of what was always direct State interference”.

Source material: LUSA