PM Costa stands ground in South Korea. Image: Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro
PM Costa stands ground in South Korea. Image: Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro

PM brushes off probing questions as he visits factories in South Korea

Absolutely rejects Portugal’s image abroad affected by issues swirling 

Portugal’s prime minister said today it is important to wait for the end of the parliamentary commission of enquiry into the management of TAP to draw any political consequences, stressing that each sovereign body has its own time.

António Costa took this position at the end of a visit to South Korean multinational SK Hynix, a group that is the world’s third largest producer of semiconductors. But he “refused to talk in depth about TAP, or about the statements of the Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on the same subject”, writes Lusa.

“As a rule I do not comment on the words of the president of the country, and even less when I have not heard them. As you know, when the president of the country was speaking, I was flying to South Korea,” he said.

Asked about the political consequences he will draw in light of what has been happening in the parliamentary commission, the prime minister replied, “the political consequences we will draw depending on the results.”

“Each sovereign body should have its own time. At the moment, the time is that of the Portuguese parliament. We must respect the work that is being done”. 

With the ministers of the economy and maritime affairs (António Costa Silva), of science and higher education (Elvira Fortunato), and infrastructures (João Galamba), accompanying his visit, the prime minister added that the enquiry into the management of TAP “will still hold several hearings”.

Indeed, there are said to be 60 people that MPs want to hear from; today they will be questioning number six in the list, former TAP president Manuel Beja.

“At the end, (the commission) will draw its conclusions. Based on those, we (the government) will act accordingly,” said the PS leader, who “absolutely rejected” that internal political disputes marking Portugal’s everyday could damage the country’s image abroad, or raise doubts among investors.

“No doubts at all”, he reacted to journalists’ questions.

According to Mr Costa, “all foreign countries recognise fundamental facts in Portugal”.

“We are the 5th safest country in the world (see below), one of those with the greatest policy stability over the years, we have highly qualified human resources and one of the countries that first invested in renewable energies. We are the only country in Europe that is currently connected by fibre-optic underwater cable to all continents and we have countless opportunities to attract investment”.

One aspect he glossed over is the angst being felt currently among foreign investors attracted by Portugal’s golden visa regime – a programme unceremoniously axed, with no notice given to applicants or subscribers.

This group believes very much that doubts have been raised by investors. It is doing everything it can right now to change the government’s stance.

And Mr Costa is mistaken that Portugal is the 5th safest country in the world. According to the 2023 Safest Countries in the World index, Portugal is 6th in line, having fallen three slots since 2017 (ie during years in which PS Socialists have been in power).

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