Saturday 6 April 2013

Austerity Measures Unconstitutional: Portugal.

Pedro Passos Coelho. [A]
The Portuguese Constitutional Court repealed last Friday (March 5) 4 of the 9 austerity measures included by conservative PM, Pedro Passos Coelho (from the singularly called Social Democrat Party of Portugal) in the 2013 budget.

"The measures are declared unconstitutional and, therefore, lose effect since the moment of their application, in this case, since January 1", declared Joaquim Sousa Ribeiro, president of the CC. (See here, my translation from Portuguese)

The cuts involved further reductions to unemployment benefits, to age pension and to public servants' wages, for a total of EUR1.5bn and come after, three months ago, the conservative President of the Republic, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, formally asked the court to rule about the budget's fairness, under the terms of the country's constitution. (See here)

Apart from the find of unconstitutionality, the CC criticized the Finance Minister, Vítor Gaspar, for the so-called "exceptional" austerity measures, which have repeatedly and for third consecutive year target retirees and public servants.

The Portuguese parliamentary opposition and groups protesting the Troika-imposed austerity demanded Passos Coelho's resignation, while Luís Marques Mendes, secretary of State, accused the CC of threatening the country's financial stability. The Portuguese government was tipped to ask for an extension of the repayment schedule, in the upcoming Berlin meeting of finance ministers. (See here, from Spanish)

Portugal was considered a successful example of the Troika-fostered austerity, having warned the Greek public against voting for Syriza last year.

The Portuguese unemployment figures reached 17.6% last January, the third highest in the Eurozone, after Spain and Greece, and "most Portuguese workers, the annual tax rises are equivalent to more than a month's wages. The standard income tax rate is rising from 24.5% to 28.5%" (See here)

Image Credits:
[A] Pedro Passos Coelho. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported licence. Wikipedia. Author: Cruckz. My use of the file does not in any way suggests its author endorses me or my use of the work.

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