Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa in Assembly of the Republic

Persistence and determination to find concrete solutions for the workers and people

Persistence and determination to find concrete solutions for the workers and people

The PCP intervened in the debate on this Budget denouncing the profound shortcomings and limitations of the proposal that the Government presented more than a month ago. As we stressed from the beginning, both the Budget Proposal and the Government's options, which lie beyond the Budget, do not respond to the needs of the country. But we have also always said that, given the seriousness of the national situation, we would not give up fighting the battle to the end to find solutions.

That is what we did with the tabling of hundreds of proposals whose full adoption would enable a broad response to the worsening of the national situation. From combating the epidemic to workers' rights, from strengthening the NHS to strengthening public services, from defending micro, small and medium-sized companies to supporting artists and cultural agents, from public investment to the defence of national production, the PCP brought to the debate and turned into proposal the just aspirations and struggles of the workers and Portuguese people.

The convergence that took place between PS and PSD in the rejection of large dozens of proposals that the PCP tabled resulted in the refusal of essential measures to face all the impacts of the epidemic, both in the area of health, or in the economic, social and cultural areas.

A convergence that rejected measures such as restoring the conditions in unemployment benefits or fighting precariousness; the extension to all pensions of the extra increase that has been applied to lower pensions; the effective taxation of economic groups including those that are making scandalous profits with the epidemic like the insurance companies; the cut in taxes on labour and MSMEs; strengthening the network of public facilities, such as nursing homes and daycare centres; the recovery of strategic companies that were privatised; the end of PPPs and tolls or the creation of a public highway operator. The need and fairness of these proposals will continue to be confirmed by the harsh national reality. Their rejection only confirms the need for the country to free itself from submission to the EU and the Euro and to stand up to the interests of big capital.

Our persistence and determination not to give up on the country, despite knowing the systematic refusal of the PS Government, has meanwhile enabled us to find solutions with concrete translation in the lives of the workers and people.

This is the case with the guarantee of the payment of wages in full to all workers, putting an end to the cuts that were in force either with lay-off or with other mechanisms.

This is the case with the increase of 10 euros, from January 1st, for all retirements and pensions up to 658 euros, or the 6-month extension of unemployment benefit when the period of its concession ends in 2021.

Also materialised was the application of the supplement for insalubrity and hardship work also covering workers in the Public Business Sector and the extension of the extra supplement for risk for workers in other sectors of essential services, including security forces, fire-fighters and others.

A significant set of measures to strengthen the NHS was ensured, namely through the hiring of hundreds of doctors, nurses and other lacking professionals. Also investments in infrastructure, equipment, complementary diagnosis tests, the recovery of backlog medical appointments in Primary Health Care and the hiring of family doctors, the reinforcement of beds in intensive care. Measures that have long been demanded by the NHS and that, once implemented, can respond to the epidemic but also make up for delays and refuse the plunder that fattens private healthcare groups.

Also ensured was the suspension of advance tax payment for MSMEs that request it and the end of discrimination in access to public support made available within the scope of the epidemic. Support was provided to the treasury of MSMEs with suspended activity or in a business crisis situation so that they can pay wages up to a maximum of three minimum wages per worker.

A programme of support for artistic and cultural work was established to create conditions that enable the resumption of these activities together with the reinforcement of funds for supporting the arts.

It was decided to hire 5000 assistants and technicians for schools and 2500 professionals for the security forces and services to be hired in 2021.

As can be seen, it was not the PCP's proposals that were lacking, what was lacking was the political will of the PS to assume them to their full extent.

An abstention that cannot be confused or that opens the door to the action of those who are betting on the deterioration of the situation to resume projects that worsen exploitation and impoverishment, with old or new players, and who today will see their plans frustrated. And do not come up now with excuses and last minute disturbances.

What was achieved in this Budget through the intervention of the PCP allows a more effective response to relevant problems and opens the possibility for others to be resolved. Knowing that just as or more important than adopting proposals in this Assembly is the Government's political will to implement them, we reaffirm that it is the answer to the country's problems and not the submission to the deficit that must determine the execution of this Budget.

We insist that the global response to the serious economic and social situation requires measures that are not limited to the Budget. From the outset, it is necessary to guarantee the increase in the National Minimum Wage and the general increase in all wages, including those of the Public Administration, and to ensure, as the government admitted, the change in labour legislation regarding its grievous norms.

As life has shown, the PCP counts and counts well, either to prevent regressions or to find solutions and respond to the country's problems.
And it also counts to set down as a demand of the present time the need for another policy, an alternative policy, a patriotic and left-wing policy that frees the country from the bonds and constraints that mark the present and postpone its future. We will be here, with the workers' struggle as always, to carry out this struggle!

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