President piles pressure on government

Still hasn’t received formal notice of health minister’s resignation

Pressure is building on Portugal’s government, with the clock ticking towards Monday when an extraordinary Council of Ministers is due to present new measures to help families cope with the increased costs of living.

President Marcelo has reiterated his intention to scrutinise the new legislation designed to regulate the executive structure of the country’s National Health Service – stressing he has still not received official notice of the health minister’s resignation.

The furore over Marta Temido’s decision has slightly glossed over the fact that it involves the resignation of both health secretaries as well – one of which, António Lacerda Sales, is tipped as a possible replacement at the ministry.

The PM insists the resignations will not imply a government reshuffle – but he is also too busy right now to deal with them (he touched down in Mozambique for an official visit late last night).

The trouble with all this is that the country ‘is waiting’ for measures and decisions which may (or may not) resolve critical failings, at a time when nothing appears to be ‘working as it should’ (see briefly section).

The PM has outlined September 15 as the moment when he would like Marta Temido to present the ‘fundamental’ new diploma before finally relinquishing her post to a chosen successor.

But Marcelo is already indicating that the legislation may not be up to scratch – something numerous commentators have already suggested.

He told journalists yesterday: “I have already said that I will examine it very carefully because I have doubts about the first diploma that was promulgated…”

This new proposal has been seen as another fairly empty Socialist vehicle for ‘more jobs for the boys’.

The PM insists that it “is a key piece in the strengthening of the SNS”.

He referred yesterday to “even the President of the Republic” saying no further time should be lost, although this was slightly taking Marcelo out of context: the president actually said no further time should be lost in getting the new legislation right – not in passing it through whatever its content.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com