Statement by João Oliveira, Member of the Political Committee of the Central Committee of the PCP

On the evaluation and final vote on the State Budget for 2021

On the evaluation and final vote on the State Budget for 2021

The path of analysis and intervention that the PCP has had on the State Budget is public knowledge. As we have emphasised from the beginning, both the Budget Proposal and the Government's options that go beyond the Budget do not correspond to the demands facing the country.

The dimension and seriousness of the situation that the country faces has led the PCP not to give up intervening to find solutions. That is what we did. The set of proposals that the PCP tabled over the past weeks, if fully adopted, would have made it possible to find the necessary solutions in the various areas of economic, social and cultural life.

The options of the PS did not allow the Budget to accommodate the set of measures that were globally more necessary.

The realisation that many of the problems that determine national life find no solution in the final version of the State Budget for 2021 is the most visible consequence of a path of discussion marked by the limitations that result from the options of the Government and of the PS.

Essential measures, with the convergence between PS and PSD, to ensure greater fiscal justice, defend employment, regain public control over strategic companies and sectors that are essential for the country's development, to create a public network of social facilities, particularly nursing homes and daycare centres, to substantially expand public investment or extend to all pensions the extra increase that is applied to lower pensions, as well as to the valorisation of other social benefits, have remained lagging.

The persistence of the PCP, its determination not to give up on the country and the struggle of the workers and populations that never ceased to be present, have meanwhile enabled us to find solutions with concrete translation that we emphasise due to the effect they can have on the lives of the workers and people.

Through the intervention of the PCP, measures such as:

- the guarantee of payment of wages in full to all workers, providing support for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises for this purpose;

- an increase of € 10 from January 1st, for all retirements and pensions of up to € 658 euros;

- a 6 month extension of unemployment benefits when the period of their concession ends in 2021;

- the implementation of the supplement for insalubrity and hardship conditions also covering workers in the Public Business Sector and the extension of the extra supplement for risk for workers in the other sectors of essential services;

- a significant set of measures to strengthen the NHS [public National Health Service], with the inclusion of measures to hire hundreds of doctors, nurses and other professionals, investments in infrastructure, equipment, complementary diagnosis tests, investment measures in Primary Health Care for the recovery of the backlog of medical appointments and the hiring of family doctors, with the reinforcement of a regime of incentives for areas and specialisations in need;

- the response to problems of MSMEs [Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises] with the suspension of advance tax payment for MSMEs that request it, with the end of the discrimination that has prevailed in accessing various public supports in face of the impacts of the epidemic and support for the treasury of MSMEs with suspended activity or in a situation of entrepreneurial crisis so that they can guarantee wages up to a maximum of 3 Minimum National Wages per worker;

- the creation of a programme of support for artistic and cultural work aimed at creating conditions to enable the resumption of these activities together with the reinforcement of funds for supporting the arts;

- the hiring of 5000 assistants and technicians for schools and 2500 professionals for the security forces and services.

There was no lack of proposals from the PCP with solutions to national problems, what was lacking was the political will of the PS to accept them to their full extent.

The inclusion in the Budget of the set of proposals of the PCP that were adopted does not replace those many others that, despite having been rejected, the reality continues to confirm as necessary without the Budget accepting them.

What the State Budget for 2021 includes and what was inscribed in the specialty phase through the initiative and intervention of the PCP enables a more effective response to the many problems that the situation already poses and opens the way for many others not to remain unanswered, continuing to demand from the Government other options that it can and should take beyond the Budget, with scope to respond to the profound and serious problems that the country faces.

We insist that the global response to the serious economic and social situation that the country is experiencing requires measures from the Budget but also beyond it. Measures to which the Government has meanwhile committed itself and which need to be implemented like the increase in the National Minimum Wage beyond what it had already admitted and the change in labour legislation regarding its grievous norms. But there are also other measures for which the PCP will continue to strive such as a general increase in wages, including in Public Administration, strengthening public services and investment, boosting the productive sectors and recovering public control of strategic companies and sectors.

The PCP will abstain in the final global vote, ensuring that important proposals and solutions for which it fought and that have been consecrated by its action, can have a translation in the lives of the workers and people. An abstention that marks a distancing from the options and criteria that the Government assumes in a Budget that is its responsibility but that, at the same time, is not to be confused with the action of those who bet on the deterioration of the national situation to resume projects of aggravation of exploitation and impoverishment that the struggle of the Portuguese workers and people defeated.

We know from past experience that it is not enough to approve proposals in the Assembly of the Republic. Equally or more important is the political will to implement measures that give expression to the response that is required.

Knowing that the global response to national problems can only gain expression with another policy, an alternative patriotic and left-wing policy, and underlining the irreplaceable role of the struggle of the workers and populations in demanding response to their problems and aspirations, the PCP reaffirms its commitment to uphold the rights and interests of the workers and the people and its determination to act to achieve them.