Portuguese American Journal

Parliament approves government austerity program – Portugal

Portugal’s Parliament passed the austerity measures package proposed by the newly elected center-right government coalition. The document presented to Parliament on Wednesday, for debated on Thursday and Friday, passed with no opposition objections.

In a brief statement to the press, Prime Minister elect Passos Coelho said, “With the Parliament endorsement, the government has now all the conditions to implement its program. It’s time to start the hard work.”

The government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho, sworn in last week, must meet the terms of the 78 billion-euro ($113 USD billion) bailout loan agreed with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Under the terms of the agreement, Portugal must cut its budget deficit to 5.9% of gross domestic product this year from more than 9% in 2010.

The proposed government measures are aimed to raising short term funds. They include the divestment off state-owned assets, through the restructuring of public investments and the privatization of a number of state-owned companies and state run institutions.

Reforms in key areas, such as the justice and education systems, are being considered. Other measures include cutting welfare entitlements, reforming labor law, and increasing sales taxes. The previous center-left Socialist government had already introduced tax hikes and pay and welfare cuts to reduce debt.

Passos Coelho’s Social Democratic Party (PSD) formed a coalition government with the rightist CDS-PP after ousting Socialist Prime Minister José Socrates in the June 5 elections.

Portugal was the third country seeking a bailout loan from its European partners, following Greece and Ireland in April.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dL4xj6QCOs[/youtube]

paj.cm