Portuguese debt leaps €2.5 billion to “highest level ever” but situation is “absolutely tranquil”, says minister

Portugal’s public debt leapt €2.5 billion in August and is now at the “highest level ever”: €243 billion. UTAO – the country’s “budgetary and financial material” inspection unit suggests tax authorities need to rake in €17.4 billion by the end of the year to meet targets set by Brussels, but Portugal’s foreign affairs minister Augusto Santos Silva has said the evolution of the economy is “absolutely tranquil”.

Speaking to Lusa, he said: “There is no indicator that permits a pessimistic attitude”.

The Portuguese economy is growing, says Santos Silva, and “unemployment is dropping”.

Indeed, Lusa said the minister stressed that “it is very important that politicians, including those of the European Commission, take maximum care and sense of responsibility in the public statements that they make”.

“The statements of a European Commissioner count for a lot”, he said. “All of us when we make public declarations, when we intervene in the political debate, should use wisdom and a sense of responsibility. And if we don’t know what we are talking about, we should not comment”.

Lusa did not make it clear to whom Santos Silva may have been referring, but elsewhere in the press today a number of sources who should know what they are talking about have been painting a less positive picture.

UTAO, for example, explains that it may be difficult for the government to bring in the money it needs to meet budgetary targets this year. The €17.4 billion that has to be raised “represents an increase of €1.4 billion on money brought in during the same period in 2015”.

“Independent experts who support parliament” doubt the task can be achieved, says Lusa.

Also pouring cold water on Santos Silva’s scenario of “absolute tranquility” is the Bank of Portugal, which reports that the latest public debt spike is actually the sixth in the sixth consecutive month.

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