Portugal’s right-of-centre government on Thursday said it had approved its Stability Programme and National Reform Programme for the country, and called on the main opposition party to submit its own macroeconomic plans for independent review.
At a news conference after the day’s weekly cabinet meeting, the cabinet office minister, Luís Marques Guedes, said the Socialist Party (PS) should hand over its plans, unveiled last week, “for an independent opinion, whether [from parliament’s] Technical Budget Support Unit, or the Public Finances Council, so that people can – beyond the froth of party propaganda, have an independent … opinion of the positions the PS is arguing for.” The finance minister, Maria Luís Albuquerque, issued a similar challenge on Wednesday, during a parliamentary debate on the two government programmes.
Last week the prime minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, said the two government programmes would only be approved after being debated in parliament, and might be amended. After Thursday’s cabinet meeting, Marques Guedes announced that they had been “definitively approved” without having been amended.
The Public Finances Council – an official watchdog set up by the current government – had already given its view on the government’s Stability Programme and declared the underlying macroeconomic assumptions to be “plausible”, he noted.
Meanwhile, opposition leader António Costa rejected government suggestions that the PS’s alternative programme would bring ruinous results, countering that the ‘troika’ overseeing economic policy in Portugal is no longer the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund but now the country’s president, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the prime minister, and the deputy prime minister, Paulo Portas.
Portugal formally exited its euro-zone bailout last year, with the government eschewing the precautionary finance on offer.
IEL/PMF/ARO // ARO.
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