PORTUGAL HAS a short window of opportunity to modernise and gain competitive parity with its average-sized European Union neighbours, economist Ernâni Lopes told the second Congress of Modern Commerce last week. He added that the country has between 10 to 20 years to catch up or be relegated to the European “dustbin of mediocrity”.
The former Finance Minister (1983-1985) told company bosses that the country didn’t have long to avoid being in a situation of “permanent degradation” and “mediocre survival” in which it would prove difficult to develop and move forward.
Talking in macroeconomic terms, the economist said that companies needed to up the quality of its exports abroad in order to compete with other emerging competitors, paying more attention to products, quality production, cost effectiveness, competitiveness and productivity.
As to the role of the state, he said it wasn’t just a question of reducing the government’s public deficit budget, but also its export deficit, as exports keep falling.
Eduardo Catroga, also a former Finance Minister (1994-1995), said that an economic miracle was still possible. The state needed to slim down its public spending from 48-50 per cent GNP at present to a competitive level of 40 per cent minimum, while exports needed to rise at least seven per cent in the coming years.