Starting tomorrow, February 24, the government and city councils will be able to take on administrative responsibility and advance the expropriation processes to accelerate the implementation of public investment projects envisaged under the Economic and Social Stabilization Program (PEES). The streamlining of procedures was published in Diário da República this Wednesday after the Assembly of the Republic granted legislative approval that paved the way for an exceptional regime that will remain in force for two years until December 31, 2022.
As the government explains, this diploma aims to “promote the most agile and fastest implementation of PEES” by making the processing procedures easier and faster and by making administrative facilitations. The executive says that fair remuneration is “guaranteed” and that there may even be a reversal at the end of the process. However, it should be understood that the path to such compensation can be more time-consuming and may drag on to court. However, the priority is to move ahead with investment as the window of opportunity offered by the funding that Brussels PEES will guarantee will be lost.
This exemption system joins other changes introduced by the government, as part of the amendment to the Public Procurement Code, also with the aim of “accelerating public investment”.
According to the now published diploma, the expropriations of real estate and the rights necessary for the construction, expansion, refurbishment or improvement of equipment, networks and infrastructures in the context of investments are regarded as “non-profit and urgent” of the PEES.
The planned investments in PEES include several in the field of mobility and transport, such as the Lisbon metro (network expansion and acquisition of rail vehicles) and Porto (network expansion and acquisition of rail vehicles) and Transtejo (renewal of the fleet). ;; Work on the main railway axes of the national network; and several works in the field of forests, the hydrographic network and sustainable mobility.
The expropriating company will continue to “promote and develop expropriation procedures under the Expropriation Code”. However, the issuance of the declaration of public utility for expropriation of real estate and inherent rights is now passed by an administrative act “which individualizes the assets to be expropriated, and this act is considered a declaration of public utility”.
In the event that the expropriating body is the state itself or a joint-stock company, the declaration of public benefit can be issued “by the minister supervising the area of activity concerned”. If it concerns a municipality, an inter-municipal institution, a municipal or inter-municipal service, a company in the local corporate sector or a concessionaire unit of the municipality, the responsibility lies with the respective municipality assembly. These permits can be crucial, for example, in accelerating the implementation of municipal housing plans.
According to the statements of the government, which were published together with the legislative decree, with the publication of this statement of public benefit, the expropriation agency receives “the direct administrative possession of the assets to be expropriated, for which it is also responsible for the deposit of the amount or the security as well as the Payment of fair compensation ”.
Equipped with this declaration of public benefit, expropriating companies have “the right, after studies and projects, to cross or occupy private buildings with underground canals or traffic routes”. They are also guaranteed the right to carry out “geological surveys, surveys and other convenient studies” on the particular properties required for the design and construction of infrastructures, pipelines, foothills, networks or interception systems. In this case, however, those who carry out the work are also obliged to “restore the building to its original condition”.