By CHRIS GRAEME
PSD LEADER Manuela Ferreira Leite painted a bleak picture of Portugal’s future prospects if the present government went ahead with ambitious public spending projects.
Addressing various Chambers of Commerce, including the Portuguese-British, French, Swiss and Dutch, which organised the event last week, Portugal’s Iron Lady also warned that the country’s inability to reform its cumbersomely slow and inadequate judicial system was scaring off foreign investors and making business in Portugal complicated.
The former PSD Minister of Finances said there would be “no room for manoeuvre to lower taxes for at least 30 years” if the state continued with an “economic policy based on big spending and public investment”.
Manuela Ferreira Leite pledged that if she became Prime Minister at the next general election she would “suspend all public investment mega-projects” which would not “serve to increase Portugal’s competitiveness” and instead a future PSD government would provide incentives to private investment, small and medium companies and exports.
The PSD leader attacked the government’s economic policies for being “worn out and ineffectual” which would only further encourage the “indebtedness and poverty of the country”.
“The state is getting poorer, unemployment, the cost of living and household debt have increased. All economic indicators have deteriorated between 2005 and 2008 with the exception of the public deficit,” she said.
Looking drawn, battle-worn and nervously fiddling with her trademark string of pearls, the PSD leader said she welcomed EU Commissioner Durão Barroso’s advice to the 27 member states to temporarily reduce VAT among other various tax breaks directed at the general public, consumers and vulnerable small and medium companies and industries.
The PSD president also hinted at the possibility of her future government lowering taxes to encourage investment and kick-start the economy.
Manuela Ferreira Leite said that it was “up to the state to provide the right conditions and incentives to attract foreign direct investment, putting an end to the suffocating restrictions which continued to sabotage other countries’ interests in investing in Portugal.”
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