Photo: MARIA SIMIRIS/OPEN MEDIA GROUP

PS leader António Costa looking for “big win” in Algarve; vows to diversify region’s economy

The leader of the Socialist PS party (and prime minister) António Costa has urged voters to hand him “another big win” in the Algarve in January 30’s legislative elections. If this happens, he says it will give the Partido Socialista the chance to “diversify the economy in the Algarve so that it does not depend exclusively on tourism”.

Said António Costa, the goal is to develop “other economic activities that can ensure wealth and jobs, even when tourism is facing difficulties.”

The appeal came during a meeting with supporters at the Hotel and Tourism School in Faro on Wednesday (January 19), attended by most of the Algarve’s Socialist mayors, such as Portimão’s Isilda Gomes and Lagoa’s Luís Encarnação.

Costa also vowed to face the “concrete challenges posed by climate change”, like the region’s chronic water shortages.

“We have to improve water use, and we have to take advantage of technology that allows us to have the cheapest solar energy in the world in order to launch a desalination project here in the Algarve, thus ensuring quality drinking water but also to develop agriculture,” Costa said, before focusing on PS’ six-year stint in power.

“We began our journey six years ago with the aim to turn the page on austerity, to restore pensions that had been cut, careers that had been frozen and to start to reduce the huge increase in taxes that had been implemented. When we turned the page on austerity, we also turned the page on stagnation,” the PM said.

“After 15 years during which the country had been in recession or registered a growth of around 0.4% on average, we had four straight years in which, for the first time, we grew more and quicker than the EU together. In 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, we grew seven times more than what the country had grown in the last 15 years. And we grew with an economy at the service of the people.

“We were able to grow the economy whilst reducing unemployment from 12.5% to nearly half. We were able to do so by increasing salaries, unlike what the right (-wing parties) said,” Costa added.

He also hailed how the country has been able to face the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is extraordinary what the country was able to do and how it mobilised,” he said.

“Who would have thought that, after months and months of restaurants and hotels closed, with planes grounded and no tourists, we could be in the Algarve today, talking about a reduced unemployment rate, with businesses ‘alive’ and ready to recover,” said the 60-year-old politician.

The PS leader also stressed the importance of these elections for the stability of Portugal, citing the difficult situation the country still faces due to the effects of the pandemic on the economy, employment and salaries.

Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper (click here)