The Government intends to give carte blanche to municipalities so that they can borrow from the Municipal Support Fund to rescue water, sanitation and urban waste concessions. At issue may be compensation in the amount of large hundreds of millions of euros, which will be paid by taxpayers and which, for the most part, will probably leave the country for other stops.
There are situations in which it is possible to reconcile ideology with rationality, with political decisions that, while not being consensual, have an understandable objective. But this does not appear to be one of those situations. What can be gained from the redemptions of these concessions, if, apparently, they will not lead to a better service or a reduction in costs borne by consumers?
What benefit do you get from the increase in municipal debt, so that they can pay the damages demanded by the concessionaires? What does Portugal gain from the reversal of commitments made to foreign investors, at a time when, more than ever, it needs private investment so that the economy can recover from the deepest crisis in memory?
Evidently, redemptions may be justified. But the Government, which is the one who could explain and justify this measure, prefers to do like Pilate and wash his hands of the matter, arguing that the decision rests with the municipalities (see news on page 3). This despite the fact that the Government is responsible for creating the conditions for the chambers to redeem the concessions.
Portugal cannot afford to be seen as the country where the reversals are the “new normal”, so these measures have to be properly explained, in order to prove that, in fact, it is the public interest that prevails and not that of lobbies willing to get their hands on these concessions.