Wine and Spirits sector calls for resignation of Agriculture minister
The Minister for Agriculture has struggled against criticism throughout her tenure

Wine and Spirits sector calls for resignation of Agriculture minister

“Abusive, anti-democratic and absolutely unacceptable measure” announced at last Council of Ministers

The National Association of Shippers and Exporters of Wines and Spirits (ANCEVE) has today criticised the abolition of the ministry of agriculture’s regional services, considering the decision to be “an irreversible step”. They are calling for the resignation of the minister responsible, says Lusa.

In a statement, the association questions “the abusive, anti-democratic and absolutely unacceptable measure now announced by the government”, which aims to extinguish regional services on the mainland and centralise them in Commissions of Coordination and Regional Development (CCDR).

The association believes that “without having resources in each region (…) the Ministry of Agriculture will be limited to being a bureaucratic and inefficient giant in Terreiro do Paço (its Lisbon address) without real knowledge of what is happening in each region”.

Says the statement: “Agriculture is an essential axis of the national economy, and namely in the productive occupation of the territory and in the fight against desertification of the interior, we see with the greatest concern that the ministry is being dismantled and emptied step-by-step, in the hands of a politically irrelevant minister, who is not recognised by the sector nor by her peers and who represents a huge casting error by the prime minister”.

The association is thus demanding “the urgent replacement” of minister Maria do Céu Antunes by “someone with knowledge of the sector, whom the sector respects and with political weight, who is not in charge of a weakened ministry, without strategy or direction, but rather a new Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Rural Development”.

The statement also refers to the need for Regional Agriculture Directorates to carry out “essential functions”, such as attending to and supporting thousands of producers, promoting knowledge specific to each regional reality, and managing funds to support agriculture.

ANCEVE represents dozens of companies producing and exporting wines and spirits in the country’s main demarcated regions. It warns that “a package of concentration of powers is being prepared” and is currently “being studied by the ministry, which will mean that CCDRs are to receive services without any relevant competence.

“The central administration will offload onto the CCDRs the onus of justifying the inevitable closure of branches”, the statement continues.

ANCEVE’s intervention follows a ‘surprise decision’ taken by the Council of Ministers last Thursday initiating the transfer and sharing of competencies of state regional services to the CCDRs, in nine areas, estimating that the reform will be concluded by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

“According to a note released at the time, the powers to be transferred relate to areas of the economy, culture, education, vocational training, health, nature conservation and forestry, infrastructure, spatial planning and agriculture”, says Lusa.

Maria de Céu Antunes has been minister for agriculture since 2019, albeit she has been less than popular.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com