Ex-secretary of State signed off on ‘touristic utility statute’ months before going to work for WOW…
Frente Cívica – the association set up to defend the public interest particularly in chronic problems within Portuguese society – has asked the government to step-in to the ‘revolving door’ controversy which has seen former Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques take up a position in a company she helped receive significant tax benefits while in office.
Frente Cívica’s vice-president João Paulo Batalha has already made it very clear that legally the situation is a violation of the law created to defend public integrity.
Government officials are expected to have a three year cooling off period before taking up posts in companies within sectors they used to oversee.
But as reports have already admitted, there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for violating this law.
Thus, Frente Cívica is going for a ‘second best’ option: trying to undo the benefits that Rita Marques oversaw for the Fladgate Partnership for which she is about to start working.
“To allow this situation to be maintained is to award an infractor and authorise the violation of a law created to defend public integrity in Portugal”, explains the association’s request, addressed to Ms Marques’ former boss, economy minister António Costa Silva.
According to reports, Frente Cívica wrote to Mr Costa Silva last night, asking the government to withdraw the statute of touristic utility awarded to WOW (World of Wine) which confers several tax benefits.
The association’s bottom line is that any decision to the contrary “will mean the Portuguese State resigns itself in the face of the violation of the law and the abuse of public functions to obtain private advantages”.
Rita Marques herself has refused media requests for an interview this far, stressing that she is “absolutely sure” in the decisions she has made.
As for the ministry of economy, it too has held back from making any kind of statement, while the Attorney General’s Office failed to confirm whether or not it has opened any kind of inquiry.
Politically, right-wing party CHEGA has said the situation is a clear violation of the law, showing “a flagrant lack of ethics and morality”.
CHEGA’s leader André Ventura has said he hopes the Public Prosecutions office will be taking up the issue so that “judicial institutions” can reach a decision.