Criticism is widespread: PSD, CDS, Bloco, and IL believe that in a pandemic year when workers, businesses, and families are most in need of help, the government has cited the lowest public spending execution rate in the last decade Supplementary budget for 2020 as reported by the PUBLIC on Monday.
Joaquim Miranda Sarmento, President of the National Strategic Council of the PSD, believes the figures indicate that “the government failed to respond to the crisis because it launched programs that were poorly or slowly implemented”. Blockade MP Mariana Mortágua stressed that “in a year of crisis, this type of management of public accounts is unbearable: there is no justification for this poor budget execution other than creating a garrote for public spending”. And the centrist Cecília Meireles uses the term “shocking”.
Socialist Joaquim Miranda Sarmento also noted that the low budget execution also shows that the government is “unable to bid” on public investment and that the executive is “very concerned about national debt”. The economist says that the issue of low budget execution has been going on since the first government of António Costa. “Since 2016 we have been checking whether the government puts one thing in the budget and then does another,” he affirmed, pointing out that “this has become more visible this year”.
The CDS-PP MP Cecília Meireles said that “the difference between the government’s announcements and the events in the fight against the pandemic is shocking,” recalled that she told Finance Minister João Leão about the situation around 15 Days when it was heard in Parliament. “The government said there was tax and contribution relief of 3,900 million euros and the impact of covid-19 on revenues was less than 1,500 million euros. The tax relief was just over a third of what was promised, ”said the MP.
Recalling that € 766 million of the state budget for 2020 had not been implemented, Cecília Meireles believed that the “consequence” is that the future is in jeopardy: “What the government did was to move forward”. Given the guarantees and moratoria granted during this crisis, the centrist MP predicts that “when all of Europe recovers, Portugal will pay for what it did not resolve in time”.
Mariana Mortágua admits that “small deviations can be understood, but not 7 billion euros. It is too much. “In response to the government’s justification that there were areas where revenue was not being collected and therefore spending could not be made, the bloc MP defends that from a budgetary point of view, there are” always mechanisms for funds to run “.
“The government can move funds and force execution. may ask parliament for approval for such relocation if justified. If money is not spent on one side, it must be spent on another side where it is needed. It can’t reach the end of the year and run out of budget. If it doesn’t, then it is either incompetence or a deliberate strategy. “Examples? Measures were put in place to help informal workers and informal carers, but at the end of the year there were very few cases from those who had received them. “There is a strategy of deliberately delaying action. They are approved but come into effect very late or with huge restrictions: the trick is to spend less money. “That is, it promises a lot and does little.
The blockade MP emphasized that in the last decade “never before has so much remained unfulfilled in a budget, even at the height of the crisis”. And he complains about the socialist executive: “The failure to meet spending is a characteristic of this government. We approve budgets and then make sure the expenses don’t go ahead while there are huge constraints on the negotiations. “This is” one of the reasons for the erosion of relations between the bloc and the government “.
So what can Parliament do? Very little, as it has no legal powers to compel the government to spend. “The Assembly of the Republic can review the government’s actions, question them and ask for transparency in the accounts to put pressure on them, but it has little power to change the way the budget is executed during the year. One of the tools he used a few years ago was a direct ban on shackles in some areas.
The Liberal Initiative also shares the budgetary management challenge: “At a time of extreme economic and social vulnerability, budget execution shows that the government has cut back on support and that total spending was below that originally budgeted.” In a statement sent to the PUBLIC, the party led by João Cotrim Figueiredo therefore concluded that the supplementary budget “only served to put more costs on paper and thereby deceive the extreme left parties”.
IL rejects the argument that the small number of executions was due to the decline caused by the pandemic in spending financed from the public administration organs’ own revenues. “It is deceptive because the Treasury Secretary can approve the use of administrative balances (or even the transfer of budget funds) and beforehand encourage organizations not to cut activities and investments, as this makes spending approvals more flexible.” he pointed out.
The party led by João Cotrim Figueiredo concluded that “the creator of the fetters [João Leão] He quickly learned the art of budget error, which his master Mário Centeno had already shown us so well. “
The PUBLIC tried to hear the other parties with seats in parliament.