Save health or save the economy? I never got into much of this discussion, because from the beginning of this damn pandemic I had the feeling that none of them could be entirely saved from the enormous damage and that it will be necessary to try to limit them in both camps.
The last few weeks have unfortunately confirmed the most feared scenario. On the health front, in September we passed the million deaths worldwide and this month several countries have already broken the records of daily cases that had been set in April and May.
Portugal, without reaching the tragic scale we saw in neighboring Spain or on the other side of the Atlantic, has not escaped and has already surpassed the level of two thousand cases per day, with the Minister of Health, Marta Temido, signaling that we must quickly reach the three thousand a day.
The Prime Minister, António Costa, had no choice, did not hesitate and reactivated the State of Calamity, again imposing restrictions that had been lifted months ago. Unfortunately, it created noise on the subject when trying to make the use of the Stayaway Covid application mandatory, a dose of authoritarianism that any spin doctor worthy of that nickname would avoid, as Costa will most likely have to back down, as we have already seen.
If the measures were strong in health and the management of the message was weak, in the economy this week the exact opposite happened. The State Budget has been criticized for not giving the right answer, especially for companies. The reinforcement of social support was necessary (even to guarantee approval in Parliament), but if there is no support for companies in a little while, it will be necessary to support even more people in unemployment.
Despite this gap, Finance Minister João Leão delivered a well-crafted message. This is bad, it may even get worse, but we are attentive, realistic (and close to what national and external institutions see), and ready to throw money at the problem, especially as more, much more money will arrive from Europe.
It is a kind of non-commitment, a timid Budget, without teeth, but that is precisely why it cannot be criticized at all. There are not many errors (other than the lack of measures for companies), except the error of being quite empty. The message was designed for this purpose, to emphasize intentions and philosophy, and at the same time to disguise the lack of commitment. What Leo really wants is for this to go well in Parliament, as a type of force majeure - this is a calamity so the government can change whatever it wants, without asking anyone.
António Costa said that he does not want to be authoritarian, but in these two cases, that of app and Budget, is being. If you don't take care of yourself, you may end up adding a political calamity to the sanitary and economic calamity.