State Budget Crisis: “Employers Declare War on Government”


This is one of the headlines in the popular press today as negotiations ostensibly aimed at ‘saving’ the Portuguese state budget in 2022 seem to get right to the point.

The employers’ confederations have abandoned the “Concertação Social” – the talks the government has had with secular groups (as opposed to political parties) – accusing the executive of “negotiating dishonesty”.

While the latter sector remains deeply hostile to the budget proposals – promising to vote against them when the document goes to a “general vote” next Wednesday (October 27) – employers in four key sectors are furious that the government has taken measures. decisions, just to please the left, this should have been discussed with them first.

The leaders of the CIP (the confederation of industries), the CCP (the confederation of trade and services), the CAP (the confederation of agriculture) and the CTP (the confederation of tourism) say they “feel disrespectful” and “demand an audience with President Marcelo ‘.

President Marcelo sought to minimize the fury by saying “yes” he will meet with employer representatives (next Friday), but the meeting was already scheduled.

The confederations’ outrage centers on the government’s approval of the changes to the labor law, a day after a meeting between the two sides in which there was no indication that this was going to happen.

The changes consist of “increasing the termination benefits; reposition the values ​​of “extraordinary overtime exceeding 120 hours” and broaden the principle of more favorable treatment “, writes Correio da Manhã.

“The Concertação Social (social dialogue) has not been so disrespectful since 1984,” says António Saraiva, President of the CIP (1984 being the year of the creation of the “Concertação social”).

Prime Minister António Costa called the situation a “shortcoming” and offered his “apologies”.

Returning from the two-day European Council in Brussels last night, he reaffirmed his commitment to “do everything” to reach an agreement on the state budget, “but not at any cost. “.

The fallout caused a stir within the Socialist Party. The former European deputy PS Francisco Assis, now president of the CES (Economic and Social Council), recognized that the employers’ fury was a “serious and delicate matter”.

He tells Expresso that he is looking to meet with the Prime Minister and President Marcelo to try to reach some sort of conciliation.

“There will be no agreement without the presence of the employers’ confederations (…) and this is a concern that must be taken into consideration,” he said.

“It would be futile, even criminal, to invalidate the dialogue as the country prepares to discuss the use of fundamental instruments for its development” – this being a reference to the arrival of the billions “bazooka” of Brussels for recovery and resilience.

This is when the drama in the making suddenly becomes clear: without the state budget, there will be no billions of Brussels.

Secretary of State for the Treasury João Nuno Mendes explained: “We need a state budget to execute the PRR (the recovery and resilience plan that Mr. Costa in particular ‘proclaims’ as the path to recovery. prosperity of Portugal for months).

“For Portugal to receive the money, it will have to comply with the measures and targets that will be approved by the European Commission,” continued João Nuno Mendes, describing the way forward as a “pyramid of approvals that will not happen. not without a state budget. ”.

It goes around in circles, with fringe parties not being sought after for support – namely CDS-PP, Chega and Iniciativa Liberal (IL) – saying the background equivalent of “we could see this coming”.

João Cotrim Figueiredo, the leader of IL, explains the reasons for his rejection of the budget – in substance very similar to those given last Sunday by television specialist Luís Marques Mendes: “They do not meet the main priority which is the economic growth “.

“It’s a bad budget,” he told parliament yesterday.

After months and weeks of every effort to ignore the mounting storm clouds, Expresso admits President Marcelo is “preparing” for a new crisis in which the logical “next step” would be. to dissolve parliament and to call early elections.

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