The prime minister believes that the worst of the pandemic is over, both in health and economic terms, highlighting the Portuguese success and growth compared to other European countries.
Portugal is currently in a “phase of pandemic control” and about to reach “a safety point”. the words are from António Costa, who, in an interview with TVI, last night, bet on a speech to turn the page in view of the high rates of vaccination that Portugal has been achieving and which, in addition to the health crisis, also extends to the economic situation.
“Our companies showed a impressive resilience. We have a lower unemployment rate than we had in this crisis. The active working population has reached historic highs, we have around five million people working. Government measures have made a very decisive contribution. The boat proved to resist the storms.”
António Costa admitted that there were times when he feared that the country was “in the background” in the most complicated moments of the covid-19 pandemic. However, what reassures the governor is that Portugal was “the country of the European Union that more grew economically in the last quarter”, which may pave the way for the reduction of support to companies. “Today the supports can decrease, because the difficulties are minor. We are once again growing above the European average”, he said.
Costa also addressed one of the topics of the day, employment. “There is no relationship between job offer and job search. Today, the population is more qualified and the expectation is to reach better paid jobs. The economy is a whole. We need companies to pay better and people to earn more to help the economy. the knot is untied with more qualifications. We adopted a measure last year which is the IRS Jovem, a support for young people to have the highest possible income in the first years”, he explained.
About the services of the state, the prime minister defended them, saying that they are “essential“. “Quality in health professionals and the National Health Service saved many lives. When we had to close schools, distance learning affected inequalities. Without a strong State and a strong Social Security, the State never I would have been able to respond”.
Messages left in the antechamber of negotiations for the OE
About recent reviews of Jerónimo de Sousa addressed to the PS in the closing speech of the Avante party, which accuses the socialists of implementing right-wing policies, António Costa said that he gives the situation a “due discount”. “Rui Rio also said that the PS was a party dominated by the extreme left. What can they say? Until the elections everyone will hit the PS“, shot.
With “all”, the prime minister was also referring to the PSD, currently with an internal dispute that Costa preferred not to comment. He still asked, “strong alternative” to the Government for “fight populism“. “I don’t like to antagonize anyone. I have the idea that a decisive factor in combating populism is to present a strong alternative. That’s what happened in 2001 and 2005. We have to preserve our democracy”.
About the next State Budget, António Costa, who had already shown signs of wanting to change the IRS, said that there were “two steps that have to be moved” and where the executive is “doing a very serious job” in order to identify the possibility of operating an “unfolding” in the OE. In this case, the 3.º, which provides annual income between €10,000 and €20,000, and the 6.º, which provides annual income between 36 thousand euros and 80 thousand euros.
In addition to this change, the executive’s leader also pointed out the housing it’s at job insecurity as priorities, in order to give more confidence to the younger generations and that, therefore, are also on the government action agenda. Regarding the European funds that arrive under the Recovery and Resilience Plan, Costa argues that the management of funds has been “Good” and rejected the “prejudices based on ignorance” on the subject.
Future decided only in 2023 and no influence on succession
The PS secretary general considered that it would be irresponsible to decide now whether he will continue in the leadership after 2023 and promised do not support any candidate to its succession, nor create a political “desert” around it.
“In 2023 I will make the decision on what to do. Do you think someone responsible, at a time when we are still experiencing a pandemic [da covid-19], where we have major challenges ahead, takes a decision of this gravity and relevance in 2021 to two years away?”, questioned the socialist leader at the insistence of the interviewer on the question of his eventual re-candidacy for the position of general secretary of the PS.
António Costa later promised that, when he decides to leave the leadership of the socialists, he will not designate successors.“I will not support A, nor B, nor C. On the day I decide to leave I will not support anyone. On the contrary, I have been working hard – and I think this is my duty – not to create desert around me. I look for the best staff and give the opportunity for everyone to grow, assert and develop. By the time there has to be a successor, which the PS can then have many choices and don’t be having difficulty”, he declared.
Asked if, during the PS congress, he tried to launch the candidacy of the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, as leader of the socialists within two years, adding this name to those of Pedro Nuno Santos, Ana Catarina Mendes, Fernando Medina and Mariana Vieira da Silva, António Costa said that everyone should realize that this was “a irony”.
“It takes a country to be too obsessed with inventing cases not to realize what an ironic answer is. They were saying that this one is successor, that one is successor. And then the minister of health? And I said yes too, because you received the card [do PS]. It was an ironic answer”, he justified.
Confronted with the news in the weekly Expresso, last Saturday, according to which the President of the Republic foresees that António Costa will leave in 2023 the functions of prime minister, the socialist leader commented that “is not analyst analyst and much less of a headline that is based on an anonymous source”.
“I’m not even going there”, he warned, before reiterating the idea that only in 2023, at the end of this legislature, will he assess whether he will re-apply for the leadership of the PS and the position of prime minister for a new four-year term . “In 2023, I will do what any political leader is required to do, which is to assess. And I’ll also talk to my wife to find out what she thinks of our life. I will listen to the PS and also the Portuguese”, he said.
At this point, António Costa insisted that with you there will be no any kind of taboo and that he will take the decision on his continuation in the post of secretary general of the PS “at the right time”. “I don’t think I’ve ever made the wrong decision about what to do and what not to do. So far I haven’t regretted it. I am now talking about decisions about whether or when I compete. With regard to other decisions, I have obviously already made mistakes”, he stressed.