Tolls are inevitable says ‘Algarve Mayor’

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

Faro Mayor Macário Correia believes the region needs to accept that it will have to pay to use the A22, saying that “the introduction of tolls is inevitable”.

He argued that the country’s financial situation is very frail and that the Algarve has to contribute to improve this situation by helping to generate revenue from tolls.

Macário Correia, who is also the President of the Algarve Câmaras Association, said: “Tolls on the A22 are expected to generate revenue of €15 million to €20 million per year. Currently, the maintenance of motorways in Portugal costs the country an estimated €800 million annually.

“Portugal’s public finances are in an unbearable state and the country has a huge debt to pay, which makes the introduction of tolls on the remaining SCUT roads inevitable.”

However, he continues to oppose the introduction of tolls on the Via do Infante until the complete redevelopment of the EN125 road and hopes that the Government has “the good sense to finish the works before tolls start in September”.

His comments have been criticised by the Comissão de Utentes da A22 (A22 users’ commission). Left-wing politician João Vasconcelos, who set up the commission, told the Algarve Resident: “Macário Correia seems to be playing the ‘tolls game’. We do not understand his latest statements. One day he says he is against tolls and the next he agrees with them.”

He added that the Comissão de Utentes will soon be releasing details of its latest actions in the fight against the tolls on the Algarve.

“The fight is on and there will be no Government or Mayors that will stop us and our fight for the Algarve. Our battle against tolls will become stronger.

“Their introduction will have serious consequences for the region, particularly in what concerns its economic and social development.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Algarve hotels and tourist resorts association (AHETA), Elidérico Viegas, told the Algarve Resident that tolls would not generate revenue but more debt for the region and would seriously affect tourism, a vital sector.

“In a time of crisis, when local tourism businesses should be supported financially, the Government imposes more taxes which will cause a loss of competitiveness against foreign markets.”

He added: “Protests against the tolls began in the region in 2004 when the Government proposed this measure for the first time. Now protests are nothing more than a political move and have lost strength. A political party that uses the name of Comissão de Utentes to enter into confrontation with the government is not suitable for the credibility of the Algarve’s inhabitants opposing the move.”

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Editor Inês Lopes at [email protected]