Twitter government: parties start reacting to Portugal’s disconnect

Country has government of “many ‘tweets’ but few solutions”

August has barely begun but social and political ‘dis-ease’ is becoming ever more strident.

With the health service lurching from crisis to crisis; energy suppliers promising rising costs and being ‘shouted down’ by the government; pilots taking to the streets in uniforms habitually associated with calm and control, nothing seems to be as it should.

Political parties are usually ‘on holiday’ this month – but somehow August isn’t looking like many MPs will be sunning themselves on the beaches.

Today, the buzz in the media is the overwhelming distrust bristling over the government’s much-trumpeted ‘Iberian gas brake’ mechanism.

Is it the ‘excellent deal’ PM António Costa cracked it out to be, or is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Portugal’s largest opposition party, PSD, has asked regulatory entity ERSE to analyse the “true effect” for consumers of this mechanism.

“To fully clarify this whole issue and to know clearly and transparently what the true effect of the mechanism brake in prices to be paid by all consumers (…), the PSD will immediately ask ERSE to make and publish in a transparent, rigorous and robust way a serious analysis on this issue,” the party’s vice president Miguel Pinto Luz told journalists today.

In the PSD’s view, people need to know “once and for all” how much they will be paying with the application of the Iberian mechanism to limit electricity prices.

The prime minister meantime has ordered State services not to pay any Endesa invoices without prior validation by energy secretary João Galamba.

A copy of the order was sent to newsrooms today.

The PM has also announced that he has ordered that “to avoid the discontinuity of the service, public services and the Public Administration Shared Services Entity (ESPAP) should proceed to market consultations, for the possible need to hire new providers that maintain adequate commercial practices”, explains Lusa news agency.

Miguel Pinto Luz says the prime minister’s decision-making and actions can only be interpreted as “knee-jerk reactions” to the interview given by Endesa chairman over the weekend, forecasting “disagreeable surprises” for consumers in the form of 40% higher monthly bills.

The country has a government of “many ‘tweets’ but few solutions”, he says.

Statements made by the president of Endesa “did not please” Portugal’s Socialist executive, and, in response, “the government is conditioning all purchases and relations of the State” with this company.

It is “an unacceptable attitude, with a hint of persecution and interference in market rules”, he said.

Justification that all the government is doing is “protecting taxpayers” doesn’t wash either, adds Pinto Luz – suggesting more that it is “a testament to the incompetence” of the public administration: It gives the impression that the prime minister and secretary of state are the only ones capable of guaranteeing the quality of public spending”.

The PSD is just the first party making political capital over this issue. The others are close behind. More on this subject will be coming shortly: CHEGA’s André Ventura is already challenging the energy secretary João Galamba, Endesa AND ERSE to give their explanations in parliament…

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com