OPPOSITION LEADER Marques Mendes has attacked the government’s handling of the economy, accusing it of preparing contentious measures in next year’s state budget.
“The government wants to hide the very tough budget that it is planning until after the local elections on October 9. It will be tough for people and tough for businesses,” the leader of the Social Democrats Party (PSD) predicted. “The way ahead is not to increase taxes in the next state budget. It is the size of the state’s public sector spending that should be reduced instead,” he added.
Mendes accused Prime Minister José Sócrates of avoiding debate and pointed to falling exports and rising unemployment as proof of continuing economic decline. He also said that the government was trying to massage unemployment figures, citing an increase in jobless of 52,000 people in the second quarter of this year, compared to the same period last year. “The government has tried to deny the undeniable. Our government is becoming Jacobean and centralising,” he claimed.
The president of the right-wing Popular Party (CDS-PP), José Ribeiro e Castro, also challenged the government to unveil its proposals before the local elections, citing the importance of clarity, truth and transparent democracy. “It’s important that the Portuguese people know what the Socialists have in store for them before the elections. It’s vital to clarify the economic and political direction of the government,” he said.
The CDS leader also reminded people of a statement from previous Finance Minister, Campos e Cunha, days before what he described as his “still unexplained dismissal” earlier this year, in which Cunha had stressed that more rigorous measures would have to be adopted in 2006.