With the country’s business association already grumbling over the length of time it is taking to settle Portugal 2020 – the ambitious plan to plough billions into the country to promote business ideas and help recover the dwindling economy – consultants hired to present bids have complained that the vetting process is completely flawed.
Of every 10 bids presented, seven are rejected, they have told Público.
Approval rates rarely pass 40%, and time-limits and other stipulations are not complied with, they add.
“Sometimes the whole process seems like a lottery,” said Vítor Cardial, president of the commission set up to create a future Portuguese association of innovation and investment consultants (APCII).
“The expectations created were extremely elevated and all-promising,” he said, stressing that one of the “original sins” of the 2020 programme was to “undervalue the work and contribution, knowledge and innovations that consultants bring to the economic and social sector”.
Público adds that it has “had access” to paperwork on decisions made for funding in the north, centre and capital “and can confirm that many projects fall by the wayside. The North 2020 received 73 bids and approved 27, the Centre 2020 71, approving 19, Lisbon 2020 registered 44 candidatures and approved 14”.
Says the APCII: “In our opinion, this model, based only on administrative processes and not in the transference of knowledge or the evaluation of good practices, has led to a total disorganisation of the programme and non-compliance with all established limits.”
The government “has admitted to some blocks on the smooth-running of Portugal 2020”, Público adds – and for this reason it launched Plan 100, designed to accelerate matters.
“But the dynamic achieved has been far from desirable,” the paper concludes.
Meantime, AEP, the Portuguese association of businesses, has met with prime minister António Costa to push to action.