By CHRIS GRAEME [email protected]
Prime Minister José Sócrates has accepted the “limitations” that his relative majority government will have in its second term in office.
That means that the government will have to reform and adapt its electoral programme in some areas, such as education and social policy and see limitations placed on the regional governors in Madeira and the Azores when the reformed PS party electoral manifesto is discussed in parliament.
This is because the government lost its parliamentary majority following last month’s general election, which saw its seats slashed to 36.6 per cent.
The government-adapted draft policy proposals for its second term in office were handed to the President of the Portuguese Parliament, Jaime Gama, for discussion yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday).
One proposal affecting foreign nationals living and working in Portugal is in equal rights, where the government’s programme promises to widen its Equality and Anti-Discrimination Laws. This includes the removal of judicial constraints on same-sex marriages.
Another adapted proposal is to the idea that national and regional heads of government and Câmara presidents and their teams can only serve three terms in office. That proposal will only now pertain to Câmara presidents. In the next four years the government also plans to further decentralize powers to municipal councils in what is termed its Regionalization Programme.
As part of its fight against corruption, it is introducing a Code of Good Governance aimed at members of the government and those with high positions of responsibility in the state with defined rules on transparency and lobbying – a pertinent policy given the number of scandals linked to politics in recent years including Freeport, Portucale and the Submarines Case.
In employment and social areas the government promises to look at raising the national minimum wage, currently 450 euros, giving more money to the poor and elderly and to fight false green receipts.
However, the government states that its overwhelming priority is to fight the economic crisis through public investment in large-scale construction projects such as the TGV. “It’s important for the country to plough all of its energies into fighting the worst economic crisis in the last 80 years,” the programme states
Other priorities include 3.75 billion euros worth of investment loans and tax incentives for 30,000 Small and Medium Enterprises to increase their competitiveness in order to face the challenging demands of the global economy, and reducing the state’s external deficit.
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