Statement by Vasco Cardoso, Member of the Political Committee of the Central Committee

About the Recovery and Resilience Plan and the options that the country needs

About the Recovery and Resilience Plan and the options that the country needs

The so-called Recovery and Resilience Plan - RRP, now under public consultation, has been presented by the PS government as being the main response to the country's problems. The Prime Minister even calls it a “bazooka”. But the truth is that the RPP with the approximately 16 billion euros it makes available and the options it makes is far from answering the country's needs and, in many respects, sidesteps national priorities.

A Plan, whichever it may be, has no value in itself or in the name it takes and whatever it actually translates in terms of objectives, options and measures to materialise it. The country has over the years known several national plans without having carried out a critical assessment of their real impact. Many plans to conceal the lack of planning. And many announcements for so little investment (note that the investment made in recent years does not even cover the wear and tear suffered by equipment and infrastructure).

The RRP does not have a planned and articulated response to national needs. What is found in it is an option to use the funds made available based on the same criteria of the right-wing policy that have been present in successive governments of PS, PSD and CDS. Wage restraint, market liberalisation, privatisation of strategic companies, public funding of economic groups, lack of planning, abdication of sovereignty.

The RRP is not the emergency response to the economic and social crisis that is underway, much less the instrument capable of promoting the structural changes that the country needs. Accelerating unemployment, loss of wages and income, the threat to the survival of thousands of MSMEs, the situation facing public services are not answered in this plan.

The RRP is not based on the country's needs, but on the imposition by the European Union that more than half of the funds must necessarily be allocated to the so-called transitions - energy and digital. Once again, the EU is trying to impose how, when and where Portugal can apply its resources.

The so-called decarbonisation strategy, imposed by the EU, is carried out at a pace and at the service of interests that are not national ones. A strategy that, instead of promoting energy security and sovereignty and the defence of the environment, points to the destruction of installed production capacity, (see the closures of the Matosinhos refinery and the Sines power plant). A strategy that, conducted in the name of the environment, is being designed to deliver billions of euros to European transnationals.

Concerns that also extend to the so-called digital transition, not in what it can and must incorporate of scientific and technological advancement in the functioning of public services or in the development of productive processes, but in what in its name is forecast to deepen the exploitation of workers - teleworking, deregulation of working times, reduction of wages - or degradation of public services.

The RRP does not take into account the structural deficits facing Portugal. It ignores the demographic deficit, underestimates the productive deficit, underrates the scientific and technological deficit, and above all it does not go to the real causes of the problems or proposes overcoming them. And if it is true that it assumes in its purposes concerns that we all recognise, it does not draw the conclusions that are needed.

A few examples: the need to industrialise is pointed out, but deindustrialisation continues, as with the recent announcement of the closure of the Sines Power Plant and the Matosinhos Refinery; the necessary territorial cohesion is signalled, but CTT [Postal Services] continues to close services, CGD [bank] closes branches, GNR [National Republican Guard] closes territorial stations, etc; rolling stock production is included but tenders continue to be issued without imposing national incorporation and without being dimensioned to facilitate it; the purchasing of ships is pointed out, but they will be bought in Spain despite the installed capacity of national shipyards; the need to “increase the resilience of the Forest and Water Management” is pointed out, particularly in the South, but the practices of super-intensive cultures and other ongoing crimes are not condemned; the problem of access to housing is identified but there is no intervention in the fight against speculation or in the regulation of prohibitive prices that are practiced today; the importance of public services is signalled but there are no objectives for hiring the thousands of workers who are lacking; there is talk of the modernisation and development of the country, but the necessary wage increase is not assumed, as a condition for the fixation of workers, the boosting of the internal market or the fight against demographic regression.

As the PCP has denounced, Portugal's submission to the Euro has resulted in the country's backwardness and the devaluation of the necessary public investment. Furthermore, public investment in Portugal is now practically limited to EU funds. The urgency and centrality that the government is giving to this plan, only confirms the country's dramatic dependence on abroad and the abysmal difference between the response of other countries to the crisis and the one projected in Portugal. For example, Germany alone mobilised around € 750 billion in response to the current situation, as much as the EU has made available in the so-called Recovery and Resilience Fund - RRF for the 27 countries.

The funds earmarked in the RRP, combined with the current and the future Multiannual Financial Framework, will surely be more than what has been made available in recent years for public investment. But globally, these funds, in addition to the absence of the required options, remain far below what was required: the inclusion of public investment objectives of at least 5% of GDP, capable of ensuring lasting economic growth above 3%.

As the PCP has insisted, the solution to national problems will not come from abroad, let alone from EU rules, impositions and financial packages. Those resources are, and we stress this once again, essentially an advance payment of revenues that Portugal will lose in the future. Unlike what has been stated by some commentators at the service of the main bosses' confederations, they ensure a direct transfer of over 4 500 million euros to the big economic
groups, to which must be added the many thousands of millions of public investment that will be awarded to the private sector.

The country needs answers that not only do not coincide with the options that are set down in the RRP, but go far beyond its undisguised limits.

The epidemic, having posed new problems and challenges, revealed above all the shortcomings and chronic bottlenecks that have been affecting the country for a long time.

For the PCP, a true recovery and development programme requires making sovereign options inseparable from the recovery of sovereignty instruments - budgetary, monetary, strategic sectors. It needs its own agenda that looks at the country's problems, that makes a critical assessment of the latest community support frameworks and that is built without conditioning funds to objectives that set aside national priorities, without imposing the so-called structural reforms.

For the PCP, a development programme needs to adopt short, medium and long term measures aimed at:

- assuming the valorisation of wages and workers' rights;

- fighting unemployment, namely through economic growth and the promotion of public employment, limiting dismissals, valuing collective bargaining, reducing working hours and fighting precariousness;

- replacing imports with domestic production;

- combating the country's structural deficits;

- facing the problem of public debt through economic growth with the reduction of its relative weight in relation to the GDP and pointing to its renegotiation;

- assuming that public investment should be set at a benchmark of not less than 5% of GDP (around 10 billion euros per year);

- building infrastructure that has not been materialised for decades, integrated into a national development strategy and in accordance with planning criteria and instruments that, in the meantime, the State has lost;

- setting down a global response to the problems arising from access to culture, sports, justice or public security;

- placing environmental, territorial and social balance as inseparable elements for national development and inseparable from the wage policy, the distribution of production in the territory, the network of public services and the means of communication, transport and logistics.

These aims require very different policy options, guidelines, programmes and projects that cannot be limited to the RRP and that must mobilise the various instruments available - from State Budgets to EU funds (with the approximately 60 billion euros that are earmarked for the coming years) - without forgetting the possibility of using external funding, taking advantage of low interest rates.

The dimension of the problems that the country faces requires the adoption of objectives, options and criteria that, breaking with those that have marked national life and that are at the root of its structural deficits, assume in a determined way an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy, that inscribes as a central goal the economic and social development indispensable to raising the living conditions and well-being of the Portuguese people, and the affirmation of the sovereign right to decide according to the national interest.ano de decidir em função do interesse nacional.

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