Statement by João Oliveira, President of the Parliamentary Group and member of the Political Committee of the Central Committee

On the start of voting on the specialty of the 2021 State Budget proposal

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The vote on the specialty of the State Budget proposal for next year starts this afternoon. We are all aware of the situation we are experiencing.

The situation is indeed exceptional and needs an exceptional response. It was in this sense that the PCP presented more than 300 proposals covering practically all areas of national life.

Problems that are already present and that are likely to be heightened must have a serious answer. There are options that the Government has to make. In and outside the Budget, otherwise the way is open for the situation to worsen.

We are facing a huge economic recession and the forced stop and suspension of several economic activities does not forecast the quick recovery that some rushed to announce. Unemployment already reaches more than 700 thousand workers. The loss of wages and income of a significant part of the population has the double effect of contributing to economic and social degradation. Thousands of workers are in shortage in schools, security forces, Social Security, justice and other areas of public administration. And the National Health Service lacks not only urgent measures to respond to the epidemic and recover everything that has been postponed, but also substantial responses to curb the plunder that private groups are making of the NHS. External dependence and the absence of instruments for economic intervention call for measures to strengthen productive capacity and to recover public control of strategic companies and sectors. The reality faced by thousands of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises requires support measures that have been lacking, ensuring their immediate survival and preventing the bankruptcy of thousands of MSMEs.

The country will not understand if all resources are not harnessed, all the available margin to help those who have been left without a job, without a salary, without social protection, without their small business.

The country does not need States of Emergency. It does need emergency measures, courageous and consequent measures to which the PCP gave expression with its initiative.

We reaffirm that the national reality needs a global response to the set of problems that go beyond the Budget itself.

It needs to ensure that the salaries of all workers, in the public and private sectors, are increased, namely with the increase of the National Minimum Wage, to fight precariousness, to increase public administration salaries and to reactivate collective bargaining, revoking the grievous norms of the Labour Code, namely the expiry of collective bargaining, to restore the principle of more favourable treatment, as well as the fight against the deregulation of working hours and the guarantee of the rights of workers in shifts.

It needs public investment to be assumed as a fundamental instrument of economic and budgetary policy, in transport, in healthcare, in education and research, in the network of social facilities such as daycare centres and nursing homes, in the promotion and stimulation of the productive apparatus.

It needs to confront with determination the interests of the economic groups that feed on public-private partnerships, that benefit from endless privileges and public money.

The proposals that the PCP tabled are in line with what is needed. Without half-hearted answers or absence of solutions as the Government intends.

It is in response - or lack thereof - to the national situation that the fate of the State Budget is determined. The PCP does not take a position in this discussion, determining its position with the approval of this or that measure or of this or that set of proposals. It is the assessment of the global response to the crisis that we are going through and its foreseen developments, including the decisions that go beyond the Budget that will determine our position. At the moment we are in, these criteria are not met.

The next few days will determine, depending on the options and votes that the PS will make in relation to our proposals and the global response that it intends to assume, whether the path is to solve the problems or to worsen them.

On the part of the PCP, proven its determination not to give up any fight before fighting it, we are prepared for everything.

The workers and the Portuguese people would not understand if the problems were not answered.

It is this intervention that the PCP will undertake to the limit, as it is doing, to respond to what is most needed. The many and serious problems facing Portugal will not be solved only if the PS Government does not want to.