^
Back
to the
Top

The Government is Your Enemy -- Reference links

General Government

An outside perspective on Portugal’s 40th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution made saddening reading as Antonio Peciccia, Researcher in International History at the University of Salento in Italy, concluded that after April 25th 1974, “The long-awaited reform of the public administration never took place, and it is still functioning in the same way it has since 1933.”
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/2157-four-decades-on-from-the-carnation-revolution-portugal-is-adrift

Someone with a dispassionate eye is the Commissioner for Economic Affairs at the EC, Pierre Moscovici, who has given Portugal a ‘special monitoring’ category due to the country's 'excessive economic imbalances.'
This is a polite way of pointing out that despite the political spin that all is well, Portugal’s debt has continued to rise, no one believes the fiddled unemployment figures, the post-Troika period has been notable for the slackening of agreed measures and overall, Portugal continues to be Portugal... 
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4861-ec-places-portugal-on-high-debt-alert

Someone with no cash problems at all is our old PM José Sócrates who managed to get a mortgage on his Lisbon apartment while sitting in a cell in Evora jail.
This is an impressive feat as most of us mere mortals would hardly qualify for a €250,000 advance if sitting in a cell awaiting charges to be drawn up. The charges against Sócrates have been widely publicised so will not be unknown to the lender.
Part of Sócrates’ plea when asking to be allowed home was that he was broke, so why the state owned bank Caixa Geral decided to forward him the money remains as much a surprise as it is a guarded secret...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4968-socrates-gets-250-000-mortgage-while-in-jail

To another minister, this time she of the sea and all things fresh, Assunção Cristas who was delighted to tell the nation that tinned fish products are back in fashion and the shellfish industry in and beyond the Ria Formosa has been receiving loads of investment, thanks to the generosity of Brussels. Industry booming, job numbers rising, more investment money on its way, what possibly could go wrong..?
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4973-marine-economy-boosting-jobs-and-investment

La Cristas did not, of course, mention the elephant in the room, or rather the oil rig off the coast that threatens the purity of the fishing industry's stock but Galp did.
Last week the oil giant confirmed that it is to start drilling off the Alentejo coast this autumn despite the drop in oil prices worldwide, later joined by the Partex-Repsol consortium which confirmed that its Algarve offshore plans were on schedule and it is setting up its first drilling rig to the south of Faro later this year.
With the notable exception of ASMAA there has been little protest, or little protest allowed as the local MPs sit on their hands and do as they are told...
https://www.change.org/p/say-no-to-oil-rigs-in-the-algarve-diz-n%C3%A3o-%C3%A0s-plataformas-de-petr%C3%B3leo-no-algarve

Another unnecessary media storm has been growing over the ‘VIP Taxpayers List’ which the Minister of Finance denies exists, or if it does exist will of course be nothing to do with her.
Declaring that the evidence of the list’s existence is false may be a high risk strategy as everything now points to a two tier system for taxpayers. The fact the VIP list was referred to in two tax worker training sessions may have been a bit of a giveaway...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5020-government-denies-existence-of-secret-vip-taxpayer-list
Should the VIP Taxpayers List argument end up in court, as threatened by the government, it will safely be smothered by the comfy blanket of time as cases still are taking years to be resolved.
The latest report shows that justice is taking between 900 and 1,100 days to be delivered. The system snoozes along, happy with a backlog of over 4 million cases and nobody in charge thinks this is poor?
Portugal has the slowest judicial system in Europe, a national embarrassment and a huge disincentive to individuals and companies weighing up whether or not to invest in the country... GG4
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4994-portugal-s-justice-system-is-the-slowest-in-europe

Another protocol was signed last week, this time between the Government, the National Statistics Institute and Portugal’s Tourist Board, which aims to force mobile phone records from suppliers, and is to photograph the registration plates of vehicles and passengers as they cross Portuguese borders, all in the name of statistical research.
The scheme also aims to find out how much people are spending but does not explain the proposed method – credit and cash card transaction records would be an obvious start.
Governments are unable to resist misusing such data and this sort of covert operation is a disingenuous initiative under the guise of 'aiding decision making' by government and businesses. So much for the post-1974 land of the free... GG5
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5129-tourists-to-be-spied-on-in-new-government-survey

The Faro Bike Festival organiser threatened last year to move the fun to Spain if the local police continued to use the influx of bikers as a cash generation exercise, stopping some tired, long distance bikers up to five times between the Guadiana bridge and the Faro campsite.
The new Minister for Internal Affairs by now will have received a letter from local MPs asking for the police to behave with a bit less enthusiasm over the next festival period.
Nobody is suggesting that police should not be around but last year’s heavily armed gun-toting policemen, many with shotguns and machine guns, was viewed as unnecessarily confrontational by bikers who had come to enjoy camaraderie, music, camping out, gallons of beer and the traditional striptease...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5143-mps-ask-for-good-sense-policing-at-faro-bike-festival

Good news, but zero apologies from those in charge of the IMT driving licence renewal system where motorists have been paying €50 or more up front and then waiting up to two years to get their new licence.
With huge effort and loads of expensive overtime, the backlog has been reduced by 100,000 leaving a mere 280,000 people waiting.
The inconvenience caused has been extensive with drivers being confined to Portugal and unable to rent cars abroad.
The minister in change, Pires de Lima, soberly admitted that there has been some ‘discomfort’ for those waiting, but no apology has been offered... GG6
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5258-portugal-s-driving-license-backlog-reduced-by-100-000

Another area where government spin differs from stark reality is the Algarve's public health service which we constantly are being told is in tip-top condition with lots of investment going on and recruitment campaigns in place to attract grateful doctors and other key staff.
The reality for the region is one of an endemic shortage of medical staff, fewer operations than before the recession and 30% of the public still having no assigned GP.
Medical staff are suffering from overwork and stress from trying to cope with patient numbers.
Worryingly also is the discovery that there is no 'competent provision' of mental health care despite a rise in need due to the pressures of the recession causing problems for many.
Regional healthcare management should ask itself why doctors do not want to work here, rather than continually glossing over the problem areas. Only then can the situation rationally be re-planned and resourced.
In the meantime, the private healthcare sector is booming with the poorer in our society unable to afford paid-for care while they wait in a long queue for state provision...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5236-damning-report-into-algarve-healthcare

The head of the Ethics and Compliance Committee of Portugal’s Medical Council has offered her professional opinion that those registered doctors who also happen to be registered paedophiles, should not be working with children.
Basic common sense one would have thought but Dra Heloísa dos Santos has stated that this obvious safeguard is not being followed as employers conveniently are overlooking previous convictions when hiring...  Ref GG7
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5241-portugal-s-paedophile-doctors-continue-to-work-with-children

Environment Minister, Moreira da Silva, could have been ‘poorly briefed’ as surely he would not be brazen enough deliberately to mislead his parliamentary colleagues over the situations now faced by many of the Algarve's Ria Formosa islanders who find themselves homeless, having had their houses bulldozed?
His assertion that "There has not been a demolition that has not been preceded by relocation, in the case of first homes,” qualifies as a ‘terminological inexactitude’ of Churchillian magnitude, or "bollocks" as one multi-lingual islander put it...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5244-ria-formosa-islands-environment-minister-confuses-the-truth-with-fiction

Strikes often reflect a failure by management to manage and with TAP boss Fernando Pinto clearly struggling to retain his credibility in the wake of shock 2014 losses at TAP, the unions have the upper hand.
The TAP workforce wants the privatisation scrapped, undoubtedly for all the wrong reasons.
The airline owes over €1 billion and potential buyers have been bailing out with just five now left to submit offers.
Prime Minister Passos Coelho’s slip was to describe the fate in store for TAP should it not be sold off - aircraft sales and mass layoffs. If this is the best way forward for the airline, why has he not restructured it before now?
The eventual buyers know they will be buying a deeply dysfunctional business.
If there are any bids, expect them below the lowest estimate, certainly below the level at which the taxpayer will see any return...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5356-tap-privatisation-path-littered-with-debris

Another figure with a compromised reputation is the former Prime Minister José Sócrates whose appeal to be allowed to go home has again been rejected.
One of the reasons for keeping him in Evora prison is the mounting evidence now in the hands of the prosecution.
The arrest of the vice-president of Lena Group, Joaquim Barocca Rodrigues, was possible due to the release of Swiss bank records which revealed large and unexplained transfers heading in Sócrates’ direction to fund the former PM's lavish lifestyle in Paris.
The Lena Group board claimed in November 2014 that it had nothing to fear, and that "the suspicions about the group are hurtful and completely unfounded."
We will see how the Lena board explains €23 million in suspected bungs. Maybe this is another example of an ‘accounting error...’ GG9
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5423-scorates-stays-in-jail-as-the-net-tightens

Former politician turned crook, Duarte Lima appealed against his recent ten year sentence for aggravated fraud and money laundering in the BPN scandal. He also is implicated in the murder of a woman in Brazil.
The former leader of the Social Democratic Party was in Brazil acting as lawyer to the heiress Rosalina Ribeiro in a case that involved the estate of Portuguese millionaire Lucio Feiteira who died in 2000.
Lima denied all knowledge of Ribeiro's murder and claimed that the €5.2 million transferred from Brazil to Lima’s Swiss bank account was for settlement of legal fees.
The Brazilian justice system at last has decided that Lima will be tried for Ribeiro’s murder, which means if he sets foot outside of Portugal, he is likely to be arrested and sent to Brazil where the possibility of a 30 year sentence would make ten years in a cell in Portugal look like a better option.
Why is there no extradition agreement between Portugal and Brazil? Lima is on Interpol’s most wanted list but is immune to extradition as long as he stays put in Portugal. GG10
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5522-duarte-lima-to-face-trial-for-murder-in-brazil

Only one banking story this week: Santander Totta, having announced the fateful ‘swaps’ conflict has been resolved in a London court, later admitted that the original and highly controversial deals are to continue, with continuing losses for the State-owned companies.
These totally inappropriate contracts were signed by many of Portugal’s transport companies and, when interest rates dropped to near zero, managements found themselves paying out massive amounts in interest, as defined in the contract terms.
The Ministry of Finance, then under the slippery rule of Maria Luís Albuquerque in the Passos Coelho government, instructed the companies to stop making payments, thus triggering legal action by Santander Totta.
The government lost its legal challenge that the 'swaps' deals were missold and António Vieira Monteiro, the head of Santander Totta, was asked last week “whether he was comfortable with charging such high interest to the State?”
Monteiro replied that this was not his role, "I do not have to be comfortable or not," thus placing him in the same bracket as many other reviled bankers operating in Portugal.
With the current animosity towards the banking sector, Monteiro’s “we won, you lost” attitude long will be remembered as a low point in Santander Totta's history. GG13
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11539-swap-contracts-remained-the-same-agreement-aimed-only-at-payments

Águas do Algarve’s president, Joaquim Peres, last week visited the site of the €11 million sewage plant being built at Companheira, on the banks of the Arade river near Portimão.
Promising an end to the stench of human waste for which the area has become notorious, Peres was less confident when asked about the smell from the animal slurry from upstream farms that pollutes the river.
The illegal discharge into the river of animal waste from Monchique’s livestock has been going on for decades yet not one of the bodies empowered to stop this activity has acted, or if they have, edicts simply have been ignored.
It remains to be confirmed whether the stink has ended or has continued but the fact remains that illegal dumping of animal waste appears to be condoned by authorities that should be acting to uphold environmental laws. GG15
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11695-new-sewage-plant-can-not-treat-animal-slurry-dumped-in-the-arade

Portugal has no mainstream nuclear power station and always has been wary of Spain’s Almaraz nuclear plant 100 kms over the border, due east of Castelo Branco in the central region.
Fears are well-founded as the ageing Spanish plant has a history of safety problems and equipment failures.
When the Spanish wanted to extend the plant to build a facility to take in spent nuclear fuel from Almaraz and other of Spain’s nuclear power stations, Portugal complained to Brussels using established cross-border legislation.
The not-so-often-sober Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, forced Portugal to drop its complaint, which the government meekly agreed to do, and to commission an environment impact report from the Portuguese Environment Agency.
This report came out on Friday and has provoked widespread condemnation as the Portuguese Environment Agency failed to ask environmental NGOs to contribute, while claiming that they had been consulted, failed to look at nuclear accident impacts from the end-of-life plant and failed to address any potential effects of a radioactive leak into the Tagus river, which later flows through Portugal as the Tejo. GG17
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11554-almaraz-nuclear-report-whitewash-will-keep-eu-happy

Portugal’s Environment Agency laughably concluded that it is "appropriate and safe" for Spain to build the nuclear waste dump next to the Tagus.
In preparing the technical report, the ‘yes men’ working group said it had looked at nuclear safety information provided by the Spanish Government, (the Spanish already have roundly been criticised for withholding key documents) as well as input from environmental movements and organisations.
Any input from NGOs was dismissed as environmentalists’ views clearly did not accord with the objective of this whitewash.
This is such a blatant stitch-up that the Ministers of the Environment and Foreign Affairs have been called to parliament to explain their parts in the rigged report.
Juncker successfully bullied Portugal into dropping its complaint about Almaraz. This report is exactly what the EC president wanted but the storm it has caused throws shame on the António Costa government, the Portuguese Environment Agency, the Directorate-General for Health and the President of the Order of Engineers.
This report is a disgrace - as are the authors who may have hung on to their jobs but not their reputations.  GG18
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11563-ministers-called-to-parliament-to-explain-rigged-report-on-almaraz

Celtejo has been polluting the river with the cooperation of the Portuguese and European authorities at least since 2005 when the EU legislation was adopted and will carry on until stopped.
A similar situation exists in the Algarve’s Ria Formosa lagoon area where raw sewage continues to be dumped into the water, either from waste water plants whose management inevitably blames "pump failure" or from the rainwater pipes running under Olhão to which decades of builders have connected domestic waste pipes.
The sewage flows 24/7 into the Ria Formosa, to the detriment of shell-fishermen and the endangerment of bathers.
Tourists who do their research avoid the area but those living alongside the Ria Formosa have to put up with water polluted by human waste.
Someday all the over-stuffed presidents of the government entities charged with environmental protection will rise from behind their desks and say “today’s the day.” Until then, avoid. Ref: GG18a
https://algarvedailynews.com/news/12916-thousands-of-fish-dead-ec-well-aware-of-killer-pulp-mill-on-the-tagus

A refreshing burst of honesty from the government last week as Ministerial Assistant in the PM's cabinet, Eduardo Cabrita, stated that Portugal "is not a preferred destination" for refugees.
A report showed that of the 1,255 refugees so far taken in by Portugal under the EU quota system, 474 already have left the country, this 40% disappearance rate being one of the highest in Europe.
The Left Bloc has demanded a report to describe and explain this phenomenon but we can save the government the trouble and expense: the reasons are: jobs, money and career progression - three goals that new arrivals feel can better be achieved in northern Europe.  Ref GG19
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11530-portugal-s-refugees-40-have-left-already

The shocking attack on a four-year-old girl in Matosinhos, by an un-muzzled Rottweiler that was off its lead, has raised many questions about the legality of owning such animals.
New legislation was introduced in 2013 to categorise those dog breeds considered 'dangerous, and potentially dangerous' and to issue rules to be followed by owners.
One of the law’s requirements was that owners attend a training course with their animals before being awarded a certificate of competence.
The problem here is that, even after four years, these courses are not available.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs said that training course venues will be announced ‘before the end of June 2017’ but the slow process of this key part of the 2013 law shows that the government is able to devise sensible solutions to problems, but fails badly when attempting to make them work.
It should not take nearly 50 months to licence trainers to run courses for dogs and owners.
The conclusions must be that the delay has been deliberate or that the ministry does not have the project management skills to deliver the goods. GG19
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11556-dangerous-dog-training-scheme-required-by-2013-law-to-start-by-the-end-of-june-2017


The struggle continues over on Armona where a British couple, Paul Roseby and James Tod, received news that their luxury island home must be demolished as it is located in the public maritime domain.
The Ministry of the Environment issued its opinion late last week that the property should never have been given planning permission by Olhão council, unless the Portuguese Environment Agency had agreed the land could be used for building.
As it is this very agency, led by Sebastião Teixeira, that wants to seize the house and have it destroyed, retrospective exemption is highly unlikely.
Olhão ratepayers inevitably will end up footing the bill for this gross planning error. The amount could run into hundreds of thousands of euros as, if nothing changes, the council will be sued for costs and damages and is likely to lose.
Roseby and Tod may have a long wait for justice as the speed of this sort of legal action is notoriously slow.
One local lawyer advised a client who was determined to sue his local council that, “it’s best to be under 30 and in good health before taking action against a local authority."
The case of Roseby and Tod highlights just one of the many dangers when investing money in Portugal. Even when everyone says everything is fine, there may be serious underlying illegalities that only later will emerge, leaving buyers out of pocket, angry and facing an interminable judicial system as their only recourse. Ref: GG20
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11606-ministry-ruling-means-british-couple-s-island-home-must-be-demolished

Tax

Secondly, Nuncio decided that one of the software packages - one of those that his own department had authorised - for retailers to use with their new online tills was able to be meddled with so he cancelled the supplier’s licence, thus making the software illegal for anyone to use. Retailers were not impressed as now they are faced with trading illegally whether they use their tills or not, and being fined - to the cheery delight of the authorities - while having to shell out for another authorised software package with no guarantee that the new one won’t later be declared illegal also…
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/2190-portugal-treasury-under-fire-for-retail-software-crisis

Good to see another high-profile arrest as the country’s head of debt collection services, the man who takes people’s houses away if they fail to pay their toll fees, was nicked on suspicion of embezzlement, forgery and money laundering.
If Francisco Duarte is convicted and jailed for taking money which should have gone to help settle people’s debts, he may not have too easy a time in prison...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4648-portugal-s-chief-debt-collector-arrested-for-embezzlement

More fun and games at the tax authority as the highly political VIP Taxpayers List argument rumbles on, with the occasional departmental resignation. The real target is Secretary of State Paulo Nuncio whom taxpayer workers union boss Paulo Ralha wants to see consigned to the dole queue.
This truly is the world of Sir Humprhey in ‘Yes Minister.’ At first the VIP List did not exist at all, then the Minister of Finance ordered an inquiry into a list that did not exist...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5049-inquiry-ordered-into-vip-taxpayers-list-which-does-not-exist
Then departmental head António Brigas Afonso resigned, not because the list existed, but because of media reports that it existed...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5069-first-head-rolls-in-vip-taxpayers-list-cover-up
Then the list did exist, but not as a list, more as a concept, a collection of names, despite the VIP List being referred to in staff training sessions. Ralha said that the list did exist and must have had political backing.
Ralha’s argument is that the Secretary of State should have known of the list but if he didn’t then he should have done, so either he is lying, or is a lousy manager so should go anyway...

This information flow between tax authorities may concern many successful Golden Visa applicants, the huge majority being Chinese, who nominally have settled in Portugal but in fact are now living elsewhere courtesy of their new found freedom to travel at will throughout the Schengen area.
The number of Golden Visas handed out by Portugal is well down this year, a reaction perhaps to the corrupt practices which followed the launch of Paulo Portas’ pet scheme designed to help the treasury, estate agents and high-end property owners.
Portas, currently Portugal's Deputy Prime Minister, continues to crow about the millions of euros 'invested' in the country due to his Golden Visa scheme but there are no figures on how much of the money spent on property subsequently has left the country with sellers sending their cash abroad or taking it with them when they leave.
Smoke and mirrors, with no equivalent help offered to those trying to sell their property below the magic €500,000 benchmark selling price.
This state manipulation of the property market helps the already better off, property developers and high-end estate agents and is discriminatory.
In a rare example of Portugal's copying its only neighbour, the excuse for the Golden Visa scheme is that ‘Spain is doing it, so Portugal should too...’ T4
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5251-golden-visa-numbers-well-down

To local matters and news from international law firm Neville de Rougement & Associates that there are changes that make it essential to check your wills.
The company, with an office in Almancil, advises anyone who owns assets in Portugal to review their existing wills as something called ‘Brussels IV’ could result in your assets not being passed on in the way you may have intended...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/features/legal/5270-urgent-reviews-of-wills-urged

Another new law contained in the 2015 Budget concerns those taxpayers who feel driven to abusive comments or even violence down at the tax office.
It soon will be a criminal offence not to obey the commands of Finanças staff however difficult and obtuse they may at times become. Faced with a five year stretch in prison, it is hoped that those whose fuses are short, from now on will sit down quietly and smile as they are relieved of their liquid assets... T6
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3720-insulting-a-tax-official-soon-to-be-a-crime

Year after year, Finanças staff and mangers profit from the amount of money collected under the ‘coercive collection’ system.
Rather than customers being encouraged to agree a sensible repayment plan for tax debts, it is in the financial interest of tax collection staff to trigger a coercive collection and thereby personally profit from the seizure and auctioning of debtors' property. Some 5% of money raised in this way is put into a staff bonus pot which is shared out each year.
The tax workers union chief, Paulo Ralha, is only concerned that staff get a lower percentage bonus than managers – a separate issue altogether – but nobody sees it as wrong that this bonus scheme could encourage harsher action than is necessary.
Any cooperation or public-spirited feelings harboured by taxpayers disappeared years ago when the taxpaying public realised that not only would it be paying for the inefficiencies and corrupt dealings of the nation’s banking sector, but also they had been saddled with a further €75 billion loan from the Troika. Unnecessary coercive collections add to dark feelings of non-cooperation.
This 5% bonus pot is overflowing and even the Court of Auditors now is questioning the scheme, but only because of sloppy accounting, not because of its existence. Ref: T7.
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11684-financas-workers-receive-maximum-bonus-for-coercive-collection-income


Banking

Maria Luís Albuquerque finally admitted that the BES failure and forthcoming sale of Novo Banco might just cost the taxpayer a few bob should the sale price fail to cover the truckloads of money thrown at the problem by the Bank of Portugal and the nation’s banks, a few of which the state owns of course...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3621-finance-minister-tells-the-truth

Having admitted the taxpayer is at risk, Albuquerque’s frank admission was followed up by that of the Prime Minister who announced to parliament what we all knew anyway, but it was kind of him to confirm, that any losses will, of course, be borne by the taxpayer. This at least ends months of delusion from these two financial luminaries...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3653-pm-admits-taxpayers-may-suffer-losses-in-novo-banco-sale

The eventual sale price of Novo Banco is unlikely to cover the costs incurred in setting it up, according to Fernando Ulrich, the Chief Executive of Banco Português de Investimento (BPI) who has been sniffing at the opportunity of picking up Novo Banco for the price of a good dinner. As one reader points out, BPI is not in great shape itself and is rated as "non-investment grade, speculative,” by Moody’s...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3628-bpi-studies-novo-banco-and-predicts-a-loss-for-taxpayers

Carlos Costa, the current governor of the Bank of Portugal, must by now have realised that he cannot possibly stay on in this key regulatory role. Costa knew about the financial problems at Banco Espírito Santo in December 2013 yet said nothing publicly that might have embarrassed the bank’s head honcho, Ricardo Salgado.
The lame excuse from Salgado of ‘an accounting error’ for the €1.3 billion hole in Espírito Santo International’s accounts was enough assurance for Costa to sit on the news and wait for a refinancing prospectus for BES to be launched. This drew in further investors who by this time were almost certain to lose their money...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3661-bes-ricardo-salgado-justified-1-3-billion-black-hole-as-an-accounting-error

As the blame game continues over who is responsible for those BES customers who were duped into buying investments that they were assured were safe, yet in fact were in dodgy Grupo Espírito Santo companies, the Prime Minister said that it really is nothing to do with him at all and referred all enquiries to the regulator(s)...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4892-prime-minister-distances-himself-from-bes-investment-scandal
As the lawyers representing various groups of BES bond holders start to gather evidence for their court submissions, it would be helpful for the two regulators to decide between them who actually was meant to be overseeing the market at the time when BES was issuing investments in its branches with no realistic prospect of investors ever again seeing their hard-earned euros... B6
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4833-courts-to-fill-up-with-bes-class-actions

The increasingly vociferous BES investors who lost their shirts when the bank went bust last August have taken to chaining themselves together while occupying Novo Banco branches, warning the press well in advance so as to maximise coverage.
No single organisation seems to be responsible for their plight so as yet there has been no answer to their legitimate allegation that they were mis-sold investments over-the-counter in BES branches where the management knew that the bonds offered were in fact part of a covert support operation to prop up the ailing Grupo Espírito Santo.
When it all collapsed, the investors were left mulling over the definition of ‘safe’ when uttered by a banker.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5015-bes-protestors-desperate-to-be-heard

The Governor of the Bank of Portugal limps weakly to the end of his tenure. Carlos Costa last week tried to justify the losses incurred by 2,500 customers who were sold dodgy investments in BES branches by saying that it was all their fault.
As for regulation by the Bank of Portugal, he can’t be expected to regulate banks when they don’t tell him the truth.
How this man got the top regulatory job in the country needs seriously to be looked at. B8
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5511-bank-of-portugal-governor-blame-others-for-his-regulatory-failures
The Governor later gave an explanation of a €2 million bill for legal advice, incurred when he divided BES into ‘good bank, bad bank’ and needed some butt-covering.
The money was spent in ‘an unprecedented effort to safeguard financial stability,’ so safely can be said to have been wasted.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5520-bank-of-portugal-explains-2-million-legal-bill
The Venezuelan government has entered the fray as it too lost money in the BES collapse which was due to a lack of regulation by the Bank of Portugal.
Venezuela is in the happy position of hosting large amounts of money owned by Portuguese companies, including €100 million owned by TAP, and has blocked international transfers until the amount of €297 million is repaid, money it lost when BES went under. B9
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5515-venezuela-wants-its-297-espirito-santo-investment-repaid

‘Good bank’ Novo Banco was last heard of trying to help those 2,500 BES investors come to a settlement over the €550 million they had lost.
Chief Executive Eduardo Stock da Cunha has since decided that his Novo Banco will do no such thing and now has threatened investors, many of whom have lost their life savings and face poverty, with prosecution if they continue to hold demonstrations in his branches.
How the government expects to get a full price for Novo Banco under these circumstances has not been addressed. Any sale of the bank will have to contain so many indemnities due to the plethora of outstanding legal actions that many buyers will be put off by the untidy mess that is being offered.
The non-binding bids to date all have been below the sum required to repay the taxpayer who, again involuntarily, was forced to bail out BES by creating Novo Banco last August.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5528-novo-banco-threatens-swindled-bes-depositors-with-legal-action

Is there a bank left in Portugal that has not been hit by allegations of fraud and corruption?
Montepio is the latest case in point. Former banking boss, Tomás Correia, already under investigation for fraud, money-laundering and corruption, has been cited by the Bank of Portugal along with eight former directors for 'grave illegalities.'
Correia remains tranquil, don't they all, and expects the possible €4 million fine simply to evaporate but the allegation should be picked up by the public prosecutor - let the court decide.
Many of Portugal’s banks seem to have been run as clubs operating for the benefit of their directors.
Much of the fraud and corruption has been possible due to an inefficient regulatory regime under the Bank of Portugal whose governor, Carlos ‘Mr Magoo’ Costa, will be accused in a documentary next week of knowing full well for over a year that BES was operating while bust, yet did nothing and later was ‘economical with the truth’ when reporting to a parliamentary committee.


With the Bank of Portugal, the stock market regulator CMVM and Caixa Geral’s current directors all determined to keep secret the reasons for the huge loans handed out like confetti to preferred customers, Caixa Geral’s recapitalisation process has started - but at a cost that shows the bank is marked as a high risk investment.
A €500 million debt issue was launched and was fully subscribed last week, with international investors queuing around the block to lend money to Caixa Geral at an astounding 10.75% interest rate.
The Left Bloc’s Mariana Mortágua has demanded a halt to the bank's recapitalisation plans as if the market is only willing to lend at this usurious interest rate, what will be the fate of the €2.5 billion the taxpayer is being forced to ‘invest’ in this suspect institution?
The last €1.2 billion seems to have evaporated, so why throw in more money when the directors are unwilling to explain the bank’s dark past?
If the State-owned bank is not forthcoming about its previous corrupt activities, the public has every right to know what has been going on and how its money has been squandered, how can Caixa Geral be trusted to play fair in the future?
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11340-caixa-geral-forced-to-pay-a-staggering-10-7-interest-on-new-debt-issue

Spare a though for dear old Ricardo Salgado, now struggling by on €1,114 per month after the court nabbed his ample pension.
The former head of Banco Espírito Santo has taken the approach of denying he has ever done anything wrong as he faces a long list of charges in Operation Marquês and other legal irritations.
The latest slur on Salgado’s good name and fiscal probity comes from the Liquidation Commission investigating Banco Espírito Santo’s 2014 collapse.
The whiter-than-white banker, no doubt will furnish compelling reasons for lending hundreds of millions to group companies such as Esfil, Rioforte and Escom without asking for a scrap of collateral, for signing worthless and illegal ‘letters of comfort’ to Venezualan creditors and for signing off a series of loans to Espírito Santo Financière S.A. which never repaid any of the €463 million owed.
The Commission’s report blamed the collapse of BES on Ricardo Salgado and the management team working under his direction.
Salgado blames the Bank of Portugal, the international business climate and, by the time he has run out of excuses, the goblins at the bottom of his garden. Ref BA12
https://algarvedailynews.com/news/12977-ricardo-salgado-and-his-entire-management-team-blamed-in-bes-report


Schools

The teachers fiasco may not affect many of you, but those readers with kids in Portuguese state schools will be well aware that their children are turning up to school to find that many lessons are cancelled as there are no teachers. Other schools have not opened at all after the summer holidays...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3608-school-chaos-continues-thousands-still-without-teachers

School officially started weeks ago and the Algarve’s schools are an estimated 300 teachers short of a full compliment. The Algarve mayors group representing a spectrum of political opinion has pointed out that this year’s allocation of teachers has been handled appallingly. Why this insane system continues is a mystery. Surely a case of ‘I wouldn’t start from here...’
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3633-algarve-s-mayors-outraged-by-chaos-in-education


Courts

To Ireland and the Ellie kidnap case where it seems suddenly all the cards are falling in the Gannon family’s favour at long last.
Ellie’s biological father, Vilamoura resident Filipe Silva, can no longer apply for her custody in Portugal, he is to be tried for her seven-month kidnap ordeal ‘as soon as possible’ and his lawyer, Alfonso Marques, has been called to appear in front of the Portuguese Law Society’s ethics panel to give him the opportunity of explaining why he did nothing when knowingly living in the same apartment bloc as the kidnapped girl...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3623-ellie-kidnap-case-trial-to-take-place-without-further-delays

http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3711-faro-council-goes-for-coconuts
Portugal’s Supreme Administrative Court has shocked lawyers across the land and may well get worldwide coverage for its landmark ruling that a woman who was damaged during surgery so badly that she can no longer enjoy a sex life should have her compensation payment reduced by over €60,000 as she was 50 at the time of the surgeon’s blunder and ‘sex isn’t so important after 50.’ Not only is this crass judgement grossly insulting, it breaks some fundamental Portuguese laws...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3718-compensation-slashed-as-sex-isn-t-so-important-after-50

Maria José Costeira is the new head of Portugal’s judges' union and in her inaugural speech decried the snail-like pace of the justice system. Costeira, of course, called for more judges and better facilities for her flock, only then might things start to speed up and judges could address the backlog of millions of cases.
The head of Microsoft in Portugal said that the justice system here is inefficient and international business investors take one look, and then look elsewhere as commercial cases take years even to be scheduled for court and high profile civil cases also seem to take an age to resolve.
These two commentators join Brazilian rapporteur Gabriela Knaul whose findings on Portugal’s justice system will be published in June. Her interim comments were damning.
Portugal’s public has accepted this creaking, unsuitable and unspeakably slow system for too long and many are put off seeking justice due to the cost and the time it takes.
Shrugging and saying 'but this is Portugal' must come to an end if the country is to remain a full EC partner with any sort of sway. The justice system obviously is not fit for this century, and a large part of the last century, and needs the application of some intelligence to change its archaic structures. The current minister, Paula Maria von Hafe Teixeira da Cruz, may have an impressive name but the performance of the sector is less so...
Ref: GG21
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5102-slow-justice-is-holding-back-portugal-s-growth


Domestic violence OK, it says so in the Bible,' rule Oporto appeal judges

A shocking report shows that Portugal’s courts had a backlog of 1,136,292 cases at the end of 2016. This is in a country whose population is around 10.5 million. This backlog is far and away the highest in Europe. Ref: GG22
Portuguese courts are the most clogged up in Europe


Demolition of Homes

There is more dissent from those Faro islanders about to be evicted from their properties before the structures are demolished. The die-hard islanders have decided that the actions of Polis Litoral Ria Formosa are not fair and that they wish to stay put.
The Faro mayor supports the islanders as voters but cannot support them legally as Faro council is a stakeholder in the very organisation that seeks the eviction of these people and the destruction of their properties to tidy the place up a bit. It’s make your mind up time for the mayor.... CT4
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/3674-faro-island-dwellers-to-fight-demolition-orders

To Faro and the Ria Formosa islands conflict which has descended into a farce devoid of humour.
There was a breakthrough last week for Culatra residents as the Minister of the Environment, Jorge Moreira da Silva, announced that the house demolition plan for the area will now include an exception for the village of Culatra, but not the other settlements on Culatra island...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4838-government-announces-that-culatra-demolitions-will-not-go-ahead

Then, good news from Lisbon as Communist Party MPs presented a draft resolution ‘to stop the demolitions in the Ria Formosa islands,' which is scheduled to be discussed on March 4th by the Parliamentary Committee on the Environment with a vote planned for March 6th... CT5
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4850-communists-force-debate-on-ria-formosa-islanders-plight

Later, Loulé’s Administrative Court kicked out an application by the management company Polis Ria Formosa for its contractors to continue to remove houses on Faro island while their owners' injunctions were being considered... CT6
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4867-court-setback-for-polis-ria-formosa

The Loulé court decision has not stopped the demolition teams continuing their work. Indeed there have been diggers working all week despite various legal moves and a professed desire by government for everyone to stop, take a deep breath and work out what has gone wrong and why the Polis management has been allowed to behave as judge, jury and executioner over the rights of islanders.
These families want to live and work where they always have, or to be re-housed as originally agreed but conveniently forgotten.
Polis has continued to oversee the demolition of properties on Faro island and other of the Ria Formosa islands, including Coco island where in recent days properties have been flattened without the necessary court orders having been served.
A Faro council meeting, at which the public had the right to attend, on Friday night could have been a breakthrough moment for the islanders who have been pushed around by various of the state's agencies and now are dispossessed, angry, resentful and many are despairing of a system that continues to treat them as an underclass.
Knowing full well that at least a hundred islanders would be attending, Faro council still held the debate in its council chamber, rather than the local theatre with ample seating.
The crowds tried to get into the council chamber for the meeting which then could not start on ‘elf and safety grounds as there were too many attendees and was postponed until next week.
The result is that the contractors will be able to demolish more homes in the meantime. This is the sort of tactic these fishermen are up against...

The Ria Formosa islanders’ claim that they should not have their homes demolished took a new and ugly turn last week as demonstrators in Faro were ejected with unnecessary force from the town hall entrance area by over-zealous police...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5122-ria-formosa-islanders-enlist-faro-mayor-s-support

The Communist party submitted another draft resolution to halt the demolitions taking place on the islands. This resolution will be discussed in parliament on April 10th, giving the demolition teams a free run until then.
The call for "recognition of the social, economic and cultural development of the urban centres of the Ria Formosa islands and the immediate suspension of demolitions of homes on Culatra, Hangares, Farol, the Ancão peninsula and islets,” is likely again to be voted out by the ruling coalition which is determined to continue its particular brand of social vandalism...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5141-communists-bring-ria-formosa-islanders-claims-back-to-parliament

Natasha Donn, key journalist at The Resident, visited the Ria Formosa islands and in her ‘Barefaced lies’ report exposes the truth behind the government’s feeble claims used to justify the eradication of 800 homes...
http://portugalresident.com/%E2%80%9Cbarefaced-lies%E2%80%9D-the-truth-behind-environmental-plans-to-cleanse-ria-formosa-of-its-resident

Sickening news just in as environment minister Jorge Moreira da Silva has been labelled “Public Enemy No. 1” after telling a heated meeting in Faro on Saturday that no matter how many people or local mayors are against government plans to demolish 800 homes on Ria Formosa islands, the demolitions “must continue”.
Read this chilling report by Natasha Donn at The Resident.
http://portugalresident.com/outrage-as-environment-minister-tells-packed-meeting-in-faro-%E2%80%9Cria-formosa-demolitions-must-continu-0

On the plus side, protestors from the Ria Formosa islands elicited a promise from the President that they could come and see him in Lisbon to discuss their plight.
The islanders sent a written plea to the president on March 4th, which has yet to be replied to, so many of them still face the demolition of their property. Hopefully, sense will prevail and the president will stop this silliness.
The British owners of a house under threat of demolition on the island of Armona have Olhão Mayor, António Pina, on their side, not surprisingly as it was Pina that gave them permission to build.
The mayor says the disputed zone on Armona that encompasses 140 properties is all perfectly legal and the reason the two Britons have been told to remove their house is down to one man, the former head of Polis, Sebastião Teixeira, who somehow managed to stay on at the head of the regional environment agency and has issued the demolition notice.
Pina reckons that, as Teixeria was thwarted in his mission of demolishing hundreds of properties on the Ria Formosa islands, he is taking out his frustrations on the two 'foreigners' who have until April 6th to remove their property or have it seized and knocked down.
Paul Roseby and James Tod are fighting back: CT11
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11313-british-theatre-director-vows-to-strap-himself-to-the-walls-of-armona-home-if-bulldozers-move-in

The struggle continues over on Armona where a British couple, Paul Roseby and James Tod, received news that their luxury island home must be demolished as it is located in the public maritime domain.
The Ministry of the Environment issued its opinion late last week that the property should never have been given planning permission by Olhão council, unless the Portuguese Environment Agency had agreed the land could be used for building.
As it is this very agency, led by Sebastião Teixeira, that wants to seize the house and have it destroyed, retrospective exemption is highly unlikely.
Olhão ratepayers inevitably will end up footing the bill for this gross planning error. The amount could run into hundreds of thousands of euros as, if nothing changes, the council will be sued for costs and damages and is likely to lose.
Roseby and Tod may have a long wait for justice as the speed of this sort of legal action is notoriously slow.
One local lawyer advised a client who was determined to sue his local council that, “it’s best to be under 30 and in good health before taking action against a local authority."
The case of Roseby and Tod highlights just one of the many dangers when investing money in Portugal. Even when everyone says everything is fine, there may be serious underlying illegalities that only later will emerge, leaving buyers out of pocket, angry and facing an interminable judicial system as their only recourse. Ref: CT12
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11606-ministry-ruling-means-british-couple-s-island-home-must-be-demolished

Motorway Tolls

The ‘Algarve without Tolls’ movement has delivered to parliament a succinct summary of the problem.
The tolls on the Via do Infante have cost road users €70 million in the past three years and the promised €200 million upgrade of the EN125, offered as a sop to keep Algarve councils quiet, was cancelled shortly after the tolls started. The independent report on the economic effects of tolling the Algarve’s arterial route has yet to be commissioned.
The problem with cancelling the tolls, which would make economic sense regionally, is the cost of doing so as the concession holder would be due hundreds of millions of euros in compensation; as it is, the taxpayer funds a support payment cheque which is sent to Spain every year.
Having to pay a massive lump sum to get out of the deal would be political folly, hence the tolls continue to make money for the concession holder and lose money for the taxpayer while managing at the same time to hamper the Algarve’s economic growth...   
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5035-algarve-tolls-to-be-voted-on-in-parliament

The misnomer of the EASYToll system on the Guadiana bridge is highlighted every Easter as Estradas de Portugal valiantly pushes out a press release saying how many foreign vehicle owners are registering to pay tolls as they enter from Spain.
The road company knows that its attempts to entice drivers of foreign-registered vehicles to pay up is deeply futile as thousands of vehicles whizz past those queuing to face the complexity of the pre-payment area.
Will these freeloaders ever receive a bill for using the Via do Infante without paying? Highly unlikely as the admission that €80 million remains uncollected from drivers of foreign vehicles rather alters the odds of being caught.
The whole Via do Infante tolls scheme is an unmitigated and expensive disaster. We know it, Estradas de Portugal knows it, the Spanish know it, the government knows it yet stubbornly refuses to offer any rational analysis of the scheme.
This is poor government, deliberately denying the taxpayers who fund it the opportunity to weigh up whether their money is being wasted, or whether we are getting value for money...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5239-guadiana-toll-queues-fail-to-deter-patient-spanish
The continuing EASYToll fiasco also was covered in the Resident last week...
http://portugalresident.com/thousands-queue-at-a22-guadiana-border-to-pay-tolls

The European Commission has upheld a complaint from Portugal’s Aveiro council that the tolls on formerly free SCUT roads are illegal as they breach various EC rules about the free movement of citizens.
The Commission now is threatening legal action in the European Court of Justice if the tolls are not scrapped forthwith.
Portugal’s government will ignore this threat as to scrap these toll schemes, like the one on the Algarve’s Via do Infante motorway, would cost billions in compensation payments to the avaricious concession holders.
This is the Catch-22 in which the government has placed the taxpayer. Whatever happens and whatever solution is arrived at, the taxpayer will end up paying the cost.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5886-portugal-s-scut-tolls-are-definitely-illegal

Employers who Dont Pay Their Staff

While in Portimão, our attention turns to the management of Clube Praia da Rocha which risks a damaging social media campaign due to its managing company’s treatment of staff which have not been paid for months of work last year.
Management refusal to talk to staff or union representatives is bad enough, one worker chained herself to the Club’s stairs to get attention, but Paulo Martins’ comment to press that he was too busy to discuss the matter maybe was as inadvisable as it was arrogant as it now turns out that management has hired new staff for the 2015 season, rather than paying its former workers.
If you are thinking of booking your holidays at Clube Praia da Rocha this year, please bear in mind the HR policies of the resort’s managing company ‘Green Stairs.’ This was the management company that managed to have the electricity cut off in all 600 apartments in January, 300 of which are for holdaymakers, many of the others have full time residents... 
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5096-clube-praia-da-rocha-management-refuses-to-pay-up


Bribery

A former Minister of Internal Affairs, and latterly heading the government’s department of Infrastructure and Equipment (DGIE), has been arrested on suspicion of receiving kickbacks from contractors.
In what could be a case of helping out his Masonic mates, João Alberto Correia now faces charges of pocketing around €1 million from inflated contracts. If any of the 27 counts of bribery are proven, he can spend some quality time in prison mulling over his crooked past.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5534-government-contracts-chief-charged-with-receiving-bribes


Oil Concessions

Whatever the environmental risks associated with the oil industry, the deal cut by the government is parlous with just 9% of profit receivable by the exchequer.
The definition of ‘profit’ is entirely up to the oil companies concerned. Partex, which likes to pitch itself as Portuguese when it suits, is ultimately a Cayman Island company so expect some fancy accountancy when comes the time to divvy up.
There is unlikely therefore to be a financial boom for the country based on oil revenue, only exposure for the Algarve’s tourism industry as the flares from rigs will be clearly visible from the shore and the pristine Algarve coastline will be at risk each and every day...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4984-galp-drilling-to-start-this-autumn-off-the-alentejo-coast

The Algarve’s new anti-oil association met for the first time last weekend and decided that more information is needed from the government about the current exploration deal and what it means for the Algarve, a region that to date has been pitching itself as a tourist destination with pristine beaches and clear waters.
The current agreements that cover the exploration blocs off the Algarve coastline seem only to encompass discoveries of oil yet the companies involved have hinted that it is gas they are after, maybe they think that people thing that gas extraction is less messy and an easier pitch.
This key comment from the meeting sums up the concerns of many, even those who may vote for oil extraction if the deal was right: “This is a business where the profit goes to private companies and the risk goes to the public.”
The exploration agreement contains a confidentiality clause which conveniently enables the government to avoid answering questions from the electorate and, indeed, from opposition MPs.
The oil companies involved are not Portuguese (Partex pretends to be Portuguese when it suits but has been registered in the Cayman Islands since 1998) and the profit share agreement easily can be manipulated to ensure zero profit is registered for the Algarve fields ad infinitum – this is what oil company treasury departments are for, after all.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5762-faro-anti-oil-group-meets-in-faro

Media coverage of the oil and gas exploration deals off the Algarve's coastline at last is starting to provoke questions as the government continues to treat the Algarve region simply as a source of tax revenue, forgetting that people actually do live here.
We need full details of the deals already done, an explanation of why there appears to be zero income to the state should the exploration companies find gas rather than oil, the real reason why there has been no Environmental Impact Assessment and a detailed external analysis of the emergency clear up plans should there be an oil spill or leak.
By insisting that the deals signed with the oil companies are covered by confidentiality clauses and refusing to comment, the government may well be hiding its lack of commercial nous, hence its highly and high-handed defensive attitude to the legitimate concerns of those that these grand schemes directly disadvantage.
Even opposition MPs are not allowed to see the paperwork and from what little has leaked, the government could be hiding the give-away of the century.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5883-oil-could-be-the-algarve-s-ruin

While offshore, another covert government plan has come to light; its complicity in a grand EC project to prostitute Portugal’s immense ocean area to be enjoyed by other member countries.
With cries of pain, Portugal’s fishing industry already has been castrated with the blunt scissors of EU policy and now to release rights over 4 million square kilometres of ocean to other EC countries in the hope that Portugal somehow will benefit is government folly at its zenith.
The comments from Carlos Moedas at the end of this news item are the most disturbing and show what Brussels has in mind.
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5839-government-s-covert-plan-to-sign-away-portugal-s-ocean-rights

The President of the Republic was displaying his easy charm in Faro last weekend when he engaged with a group of noisy protestors outside a conference whose ironic title, ‘For the Excellence of the Economy of the Algarve’ was not lost on those opposed to the government’s covert oil and gas agenda.
The ever-smiling Rebelo de Sousa tried the old, "more chance of me going to the moon than finding oil in the Algarve" approach. He did not mention gas, of course, as huge deposits were mapped long before the current 'bargain basement' concession deals were signed to the overwheling benefit of the oil companies.
The problem in Faro was that the President lied, or, if we are being charitable, the president was ‘badly advised.’ Either way, Rebelo de Sousa laudably had decided to talk to the crowd but clearly had failed to get abreast of the current issues surrounding the hydrocarbon concession contracts which are causing the government increasing discomfort.
It is saddening to conclude that the president deliberately lied to the public but, unless he really has been badly advised, this was the case.
The Minister of the Sea already has proved herself to be duplicitous over the oil concession process. Ana Paula Vitorino has used the high risk strategy of lying to parliament but if the obfuscation being promoted by the government has been adopted by the President of the Republic of Portugal, this is a serious matter and questions must be asked as to Rebelo de Sousa’s political independence.
ASMAA’s Laurinda Seabra asks: “if the President was just badly informed by his advisors or if there is indeed an orchestrated effort to mislead the Portuguese nation?”
For an explanation of the concession contracts and drilling licences, see:
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11325-president-marcelo-disappoints-algarve

General

The head of Portugal’s Misericordia charitable organisation declared last week, in an interview which now he may be regretting, that hunger is the fault of poor people, if they want to be hungry, it’s up to them.
Seldom has such an arrogant, self-satisfied, smug, uncompassionate and stupid series of remarks come from the president of a charitable organisation.
As if prompted by the government in a pre-election desire for good news about the poor, these remarks from Manuel Lemos suggest that those found rooting through waste bins in Portugal’s towns and cities simply are ‘too proud’ to get their sorry arses down to a soup kitchen...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4678-portugal-hunger-is-only-for-those-who-choose-to-be-hungry


Local Government

The auditor appointed by mayor Isilda Gomes to look into the accounts at Portimão council has submitted his report, and what a corrupt mess of financial ineptitude he has revealed.
The reign of former mayor Manuel da Luz will go down in local government history as a textbook case of how to run a council into the ground with uncontrolled and unaudited spending year after year. Portimão ratepayers now are faced with a municipal debt of around €160 million.
There will be more grim detail to come from the auditor, especially concerning ExpoArade and, perhaps more importantly, Portimão Urbis and its suspected links to the Autodrome. I suspect this is where the deepest corruption lies.
The ex-Mayor Manuel da Luz, Deputy Mayor Luís Carito and Councillor Jorge Campos already have been arrested for financial crimes and the sooner the official police investigation is concluded and a court date set, the better...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/4699-portimao-council-audit-reveals-several-irregularities

The deliberate pollution of the Ria Formosa's waters continues with official blessing despite the lagoon being a bird sanctuary and breeding ground, a shellfish production zone and an area that hopes to attract tourists in a regional push for more nature tourism.
A petition has been launched in this regard as nothing has been done about pollution for years despite the illegality of 31 sewage outfalls dumping chemically treated sludge and untreated sewage.
These environmental hazards hardly help create the pristine Ria Formosa waters we read about in tourist brochures and on travel websites...
http://www.algarvedailynews.com/news/5289-petition-to-rid-the-ria-formosa-of-deliberate-pollution

One case that was so blatant, even the local council couldn’t mount a cover-up, was of the two Olhão council employees who successfully demanded money from property owners, or they would be reported and fined for illegal building work.
So successful was this scam that one of the women had €32,000 in cash hidden at her home.
These two criminals were well known in Olhão for their illegal activities. Delighted locals imagined both would serve time in jail and certainly lose their comfy council jobs.
The women were given suspended sentences of over three years and were not sacked.
This is wrong on two counts. Firstly, as pointed out last week by the public prosecutor, those given a sentence of three years or more normally would serve time in jail and, secondly, they should not continue to be employed by the council whose mayor’s stated policy is that, “it is important to fight corruption in public services.”
The Public Ministry is “considering appealing the judge's decision” to suspend the sentences.
Don't just consider it, do it. If these two crooks escape jail, where is the deterrent?
As for the women continuing in their employment at the council, what part of ‘gross misconduct’ does the mayor not understand? Ref: LG101
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11621-corrupt-olhao-council-employees-may-yet-go-to-jail

A Court of Auditors’ report into Águas de Portugal described the company's direct contract awarding process, i.e. those contracts where managers appoint suppliers without going through a tendering process.
An unacceptably high percentage of contracts were awarded without allowing competing suppliers to bid and of these, 85% of the deals were considered ‘irregular.’
This turns long-running suspicions that the State-owned water company is riddled with corruption, into reality.
The report is so late in being published, having covered a period between 2012 and 2014, that many suppliers (conveniently) have ceased to operate. The auditors identified many Águas de Portugal managers as being responsible for this widespread illegality.
These State employees must be investigated and sacked, if guilty.
Those working on behalf of the taxpayer in State owned businesses must follow the Public Procurement Code which exists to help remove corruption and to increase transparency.
If State-controlled businesses ignore the procurement code, how should the government react when those in the private sector misbehave? Ref: LG102
http://algarvedailynews.com/news/11652-portugal-s-national-water-company-awash-with-corruption