INFLATION IS hitting shoppers hard in the pocket for basic food stuffs and energy as bread, milk, public transport, electricity and road tolls all go up.
In recent weeks, bread (30 per cent), milk (15 per cent), public transport (3.9 per cent), electricity (2.9 per cent) and tolls (2.6 per cent) have all shot up.
Now the cost of water is set to rise in Lisbon by 3.64 per cent, according to Portuguese water company Empresa Portuguesa das Águas Livres, SA (EPAL).
EPAL’s General Secretary, José Zenha said last week that “customers with an average consumption of eight cubic metres of water” would find “an extra 22 cents” slapped onto their monthly bills.
Inflation affecting basic necessities is, for the vast majority of Portuguese, questioned in a Aximage survey, likely to lower the overall quality of life in 2008.
Economist Ferreira do Amaral believes that the Portuguese economy is looking “sad and sorry” and “not very optimistic” given the increases in price for basic commodities and that the inflation rate of 2.1 per cent is above salary increases.
There has also been a stark warning by the President of the Republic, Cavaco Silva, who said that the government’s public development policies were threatening small and medium-sized companies in Portugal that were in danger of “disappearing.”
Cavaco Silva, referring to excessive public administration and state control, said that Portugal would “not be able to compete in the international arena or develop if its small and medium companies disappeared.”
“It’s these smaller companies that can help us recover a relevant place within the European Community,” he added referring to the Quadro de Referencia Estratégico Nacional, QREN, which is Portugal’s national strategic development plan.
The President was speaking in Tondela during the inauguration ceremony of a new pharmaceutical factory opened by Fresenius Kabi Group’s Labesfal.
In a speech almost entirely devoted to national economic questions within the wider international context, Cavaco Silva said Labesfal was an example of a company that took advantage of a favourable economic environment to develop, had a strong export policy, high level of technology, and invested in innovation and strategic partners within the scientific community.”
The Minister of the Environment, Nunes Correia, said that the government’s development plan had had a positive impact on Portuguese companies.
He said that though QREN had received 159 candidates for government investment incentives for new ideas from small and medium sized companies competing for some 945 million euros of which 93 involved regional companies. He did not say how many had won investment grants from the total investment pie.
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