A people-focused budget

I understand that everything is always little, in atypical times, marked by many fears, doubts and insecurities. The responses show, however, that there is a path where the focus is on people. It could not be otherwise.

On the date that I write these lines for readers of the Jornal Económico, the debate on the State Budget is still at the so-called stage of the specialty of parliamentary terminology. This is the period when more than 1.500 proposed amendments are voted on, submitted by all parliamentary groups, by the single deputies representing parties and non-attached deputies. This is an extensive model, with long hours of voting, and when this text is published it has already ended, with the final global vote on the 26th.

We must, in the future, reflect on this model of budgetary debate and, certainly, adapt it to an increasingly diversified Parliament, contributing to its simplification and to a better public perception of it. However, it is not the time for this debate. Not knowing yet the result of the global vote at the time of writing, I emphasize that the country, people and our companies need an approved budget. The crisis is global, but we must recognize that it is asymmetric. There are economic activities that suffer more from the effects of this crisis than others, as is the case (among others) in the hotel, restaurant and culture sectors.

In addition to the public health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, an economic crisis was added, which we should all be concerned about in order to find the most appropriate answers so that no one is left behind.

The bleak situation in the restaurant and hospitality industry requires understanding and empathy, translated into the approved or announced responses, such as support for the catering sector totaling 1.103 million euros, corresponding to about 60% of the break in revenue recorded by sector, as recently announced by the Minister of Economy. A value that includes 286 million euros of support that has already reached companies in this sector through the simplified lay-off and support for the progressive recovery.

I also underline the 200 million euros of the “Apoiar” program, which allows the granting of non-repayable support to micro, small and medium-sized companies to compensate them for the break in revenues. The commercial rental sector also deserved the announcement of responses, to safeguard rights, both for tenants and tenants. I understand that everything is always little, in atypical times, marked by many fears, doubts and insecurities. The responses show, however, that there is a path where the focus is on people. It could not be otherwise.

With firmness, the answers are emerging in a field that, unfortunately, is also fertile for populism, proof that despair is seen as a simple way for the emergence of all kinds of proposals, some without the least common sense and I collect criticism without any foundation. Many seem to forget, for example, that it was the PS that lowered the VAT on catering in the last legislature.

At this moment of debate, it is essential that the measures discussed are consensual and focused on the best for people, in order to restore the Portuguese to the levels of confidence that will allow them to continue fighting, even in the turbulent and challenging times that we all face.

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