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Público: ...
Lusa - Business News - Portugal: No 'sure recipes', money can't go 'everywhere' - Siza Vieira




Lisbon, April,6,2021(Lusa) - Portugal's economy minister on Tuesday said that there are no sure recipes in response to the pandemic, and the government does not intend to go all over the place in the support granted, but the evolution of unemployment shows that it has been worth it.

"The latest figures that were published yesterday [Monday] show that unemployment in February fell compared to January, in the number of people registered at job centres, and the rate of underutilisation of employment remains relatively stable. This collective success in preserving employment is what makes us think that the effort we have made has been worthwhile," Pedro Siza Vieira said during a hearing at the Commission for Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing on the economic and social response to the pandemic.

He added that between December last year and March this year, around €1.3 billion had been paid to companies, between employment support and non-refundable support of another nature, Siza Vieira sustained that this had some positive impact.

An example of this is what has happened in terms of unemployment, which has surprised everyone - including the government - and international observers positively, he said.

Even so, Siza Vieira recognised that there are no right recipes because it is not easy to implement a set of unprecedented measures. At many moments the government is also frustrated by the delayed response or adjusts the responses successively.

According to data provided by the economy minister, approximately €734 million has been paid to companies since November of last year, and the 'Apoia' programme has 'approved €927 million of support and paid €685 million to companies, especially in the most affected sectors.

Although the effect of the support granted under this programme is very uneven - there are some sectors where it practically covers the fixed salary and non-salary costs, but many others where it is not enough, he said - Siza Vieira said that the support is well thought out.

"So much so that, on 15 March, the Spanish government approved a decree-law where it created a similar support, of an amount (corrected by GDP [Gross Domestic Product]) a little lower than the Apoiar and with support limits very close to ours," he said.

"When we see others doing the same, a few months after us, one realises that, despite everything, it is a very significant proposal," he said.

Regarding the Rent Support programme, the minister said that 22,373 applications had been received so far, corresponding to a total amount of support of €62.3 million, and payments of €25.3 million have been made.

Concerning credit lines with a state guarantee, the minister said that around €8.5 billion of loans have been granted to companies since the start of the pandemic crisis, with around 63,000 companies receiving support, which together have 187,000 jobs that they are obliged to preserve.

"Even now, we are still getting requests from social partners and business associations to reinforce the lines, and so we need to continue to reinforce them," he said.

Despite the great variety of measures launched by the government, and in response to criticism from members of parliament as to their size and effectiveness, Siza Vieira said that they will always be insufficient because the economic downturn is extremely violent and cannot be fully compensated for.

"It is to mitigate, it cannot be a full compensation, nor can it harm the future sustainability of our collective life," he said, adding that there are many companies that will not receive support according to the criteria defined by the government, that wanted to focus on the most affected sectors.

"We have always said that we are not going to go everywhere. What we intend is to direct adequate support to mitigate the crisis and answer the most precise questions," stated Pedro Siza Vieira.

Assuring that it was not due to a lack of budgetary availability that the government stopped directing support to the economy, the minister recalled that the €3.3 billion spent in response to the pandemic crisis in 2020 exceeded all the amounts that were budgeted, for example, in health or social spending.

"The government did not skimp on support. It was able to give it beyond what was foreseen in the budget. In 2020, and particularly in 2021, we provided non-refundable support to companies that were not foreseen," he said, giving the example of the Apoiar programme, whose expansion and reinforcement did not have budgetary coverage.

Concerning the end of the bank credit moratoria, the economy minister said that in the most affected sectors, it is necessary to find a response of capitalisation of companies and support that, before the end of September, will allow an adequate response to their situation.

"But, in general, the capital situation of companies is robust, and the savings that many have made in debt servicing in these years means that we have to direct support towards responding to the end of the moratoria those companies most in need," he added.

Pedro Siza Vieira also stated that the government continues to hope for a vigorous post-default economic recovery.

"We hope that between the resumption of the economy and some support, we can mitigate the damages and ensure that we reach the end of the year in the best possible condition," he said.

PD/IMYN // ADB.

Lusa


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2021-04-07 10:15:00







 

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