Speedy president rubber stamps budget, but warns about need for growth

Portugal’s super-speedy president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa turned up five minutes early for his address to the nation last night simply to say that he was rubber-stamping the PS government’s budget for 2017 – not because he agreed with all of it politically or judicially, but because time, and speed, are of the essence.

Indeed, the reason for his early address (the speech was billed to come at 6pm) was to catch people’s attention before the start of the Benfica-Rio Ave national league football game – which also started at 6pm.

Launching straight into his discourse, the no-nonsense head of state stressed the context of a “complex year in the world and Europe” and the need for Portugal to generate more growth to “guarantee the sustainability of budgetary rigour in the coming years”.

The country needs to “increase exports”, he said, and with increased investment needs to “better utilize European funds”.

Marcelo also talked about the need to mobilise people into “saving more” and helping generate higher growth than the country has been achieving.

It was a lightening speech that anyone watching the time would have missed – and it came the day before the government faced a new challenge from unions over the setting of the national minimum wage.

At lunchtime today the CGTP (confederation of Portuguese workers) called the government’s proposal of €557 from January 1 “unacceptable”, and also balked at the plan to finance it with money raised through taxes.

Talks are still ongoing, explains SIC television news, as hopes are that a consensus can be reached by the end of the day.

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