Statement by the PCP's Central Committee Meeting October 31, 2016

Statement by the PCP's Central Committee Meeting October 31, 2016

PCP's Central Committee, meeting on October 31, 2016, analysed the political situation and the development of the mass struggle, and examined aspects of the Party’s activity, strengthening and political initiative and also of the preparation of the XX Congress.

1. International situation – recent developments

1.1. The international situation remains marked by great instability caused by the actions of interference and aggression by the US, NATO and its allies, particularly the dangers arising from the military escalation in Syria and Iraq. The Central Committee of the PCP stresses that peace in the Middle East demands the recognition of the Palestinian State, respect for the sovereignty and independence of the States and the end of aggressions - such as the one for years launched against Syria - and the confrontation with the Russian Federation which, at the request of the legitimate Syrian government, acts in defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of that country.

The Central Committee expresses its solidarity with all the people who in the Middle East continue to struggle for national rights and resist the goals of imperialist domination in the region.

1.2. In view of the consequences of the imperialist offensive, namely the humanitarian crisis, and the dangers of a major conflict, the Central Committee stresses that the UN must work for the defence of peace, cooperation, sovereignty, values and principles of the United Nations Charter. It is in this framework, and emphasizing the need to end the instrumentalization of the UN by the imperialist powers, that the PCP will assess the performance of Antonio Guterres as Secretary General of the UN.

1.3. The PCP expresses its solidarity with the peoples of Latin America who lead struggles and progressive processes of sovereign affirmation and are the target of a multi-pronged offensive by big business and imperialism. Reiterates its support for the peace process in Colombia, as a way to build peace with social justice in that country. Also expresses its solidarity with the people, the revolutionary and progressive forces of Venezuela and the Bolivarian government who resist economic and political boycott and putschist and foreign interference manoeuvres.

1.4. The Central Committee welcomes the condemnation by the UN General Assembly of the economic and commercial blockade against Cuba, as well as, following PCP’s initiative, the unanimous adoption in the Assembly of the Republic of a vote to this effect and for the repeal of the “Common Position on Cuba” taken by the EU in 1996. It is up to the various national sovereign bodies to give concrete expression to these demands, acting at the international level to this effect and to deepen friendly relations and cooperation between Portugal and Cuba.

1.5. The Central Committee denounces the objectives restated by the European Union at the European Council meeting to deepen the single market, of intensification of the military and xenophobic response to the humanitarian crisis of the refugees, of militarisation and confrontation with the Russian Federation, as well as an even greater liberalisation of world trade.

In this context, the PCP calls for stepping up the fight against the agreements concerning trade and international economic relations – such as CETA (already signed by the EU and Canada), TTIP and TISA - which violate the economic, social, environmental and public health rights of the peoples and are steamrollers of the sovereignty and of the right to sovereign development. Regarding CETA, the PCP expresses its firm opposition to the anti-democratic decision to allow the temporary entry into force of this agreement even before its ratification by Member States and from the outset states its opposition to the ratification of CETA by Portugal.

1.6. The Central Committee of the PCP valorises the numerous struggles around the world fought in defence of the rights of the peoples and against the multifaceted offensive by imperialism.

The Central Committee valorises the holding of the 18th Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties, from October 28 to 30, in Hanoi, in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, as well as the lines of common or convergent action contained in the Appeal adopted there. The PCP, assuming its internationalist duties, underlines the importance of the struggle, of solidarity and internationalist cooperation and reaffirms its commitment to the reinforcement of the anti-imperialist front and in strengthening unity and cooperation of the international communist and revolutionary movement.

2. The situation of the country and the policy that is needed

2.1. Decades of right-wing policy pursued by successive governments under the responsibility of PS, PSD and CDS, intensified by the SGPs and the Pact of Aggression and the destructive action of the PSD/CDS government, led to the worsening of the national situation, with the accumulation of structural deficits, the withering away of the productive apparatus, the intensification of exploitation and expansion of poverty, the worsening of foreign dependence. This is a context that marks the socio-economic reality of the country and conditions the possibility of a sovereign development and demands - to face and ensure full response to national problems – a rupture with the options and guidelines that the right-wing policy has imposed.

2.2. The new phase of national political life, achieved with the defeat of the PSD and CDS and their removal from government, opened perspectives to address the problems and aspirations of the workers and the people. It was for this objective that the PCP fought, contributed and continues to contribute guided by the interests of the workers, the people and the country.

The Central Committee of the PCP valorises the advances achieved and the steps taken to address the more immediate problems and aspirations and which are the result of the struggle that was and is being fought by the workers and the people and through the intervention of the PCP.

2.3. The interruption of the course of destruction followed in recent years and the steps taken for its reversal have been the target of a strong offensive, based on a strong ideological campaign and reflected in a long process of internal and external pressures and blackmail.

It is in this context that one should see the revanchist intervention by PSD and CDS, hand in hand with the organisations representing big employers, and the action of decision-making centres of the European Union, the IMF and rating agencies, themselves expression of the interests of monopoly capital. A continuing effort to destabilize by the PSD and CDS to encourage the acts of interference which the European Commission and European Central Bank have been developing, either on the subject of sanctions and suspension of structural funds, or to promote uncertainty, pressuring the interests on public debt.

2.4. In these last months the situation in the country continues to portray an overall picture of feeble economic growth and the threat of stagnation, maintaining a structurally high unemployment rate, great external imbalances and unsustainably low levels of investment, that jeopardise a future recovery. The budgetary execution in the first nine months of the year confirms the steps forward in restoring rights and incomes, but also the consequences of the constraints that the country is subject.

Most of the productive activities, in industry, agriculture and fisheries, continue to face difficulties in access to credit, energy costs, communications and other production factors, as well as the impacts of the common market and the liberalisation of trade and movements of capital. Successive announcements of programmes aiming at "internationalisation", "capitalisation" or "digitalisation" of companies continue to have a marginal effect on economic activity, when not instruments of direct financing of economic groups. EU funds, on which public investment depends largely, show a low execution rate and subject to criteria, determined by the PSD/CDS government. It is important to review them in the reprogramming process, and thus correspond to national interests.

The social functions of the State and all public services are still affected by budgetary constraints and options that are unable to reverse the strategy of degradation and privatisation that the previous PSD/CDS government furthered on a large scale, mainly with a shortage of workers, equipment, materials and investment.

The real situation in banking continues to surface in all its extension. High levels of exposure to bad debts arising from financial speculation inherent to monopolist control over banking, pose serious threats in the future, in a context where the European Union carries out an open intervention in the concentration of banks at the expense of public funds.

The clash between monopoly groups and the interests of the people and the country worsens. In labour relations, where they seek to force the increase of exploitation, promoting precariousness, low wages, dismissals, blockade and termination of collective bargaining, aiming at the liquidation of the rights that it contains. In various sectors and economic areas – traditional retail trade, tourism, taxis, milk production, fisheries, forestry, among others - where small businesses are crushed and options and legislation favourable to monopoly interests are dictated. In strategic sectors, with the debt and decapitalisation of companies (which were privatised) to pay dividends to shareholders and with management options beyond the country's interest, as revealed by EDP’s investments in the US, or the management in Cimpor.

Without the materialisation of the doomsday predictions forecasted and desired by PSD and CDS and the spokesmen of big business, in view of the new phase of national political life, the truth is that, as the PCP has always stressed, the monopolistic hold on the national economy, the unsustainable size of public debt, the submission to the European Union and the Euro continue to remain as structural obstacles and constraints on the country and likewise require the structuring answers contained in the patriotic and left-wing policy that the PCP proposes to the Portuguese people.

2.5. The discussion on the State Budget Proposal for 2017 is an important moment for the development of the country’s situation. Its concrete expression will determine the general direction of the political response to the country’s problems.

The State Budget proposal falls short of the needs and possibilities of the country as a result of the options of PS and its government of not standing up to the interests of monopoly groups and the constraints arising from the submission to the Euro and the European Union. At the same time weighs in its evaluation the process of restoration of rights and incomes that continues, for which the workers' struggle and the intervention of the PCP are decisive. The PCP will continue its intervention in the discussion on the details, without wasting any opportunity to correct negative aspects and ensure more advances in the interests of the workers and the people. The result of this intervention and after weighing the various implications on a broader scale for the life of the country will determine the final position of the PCP.

The State Budget for 2017 is not the budget of the PCP and the entire framework that involves it highlights the growing need for a rupture with the right-wing policy and the adoption of a patriotic and left-wing policy to ensure a solid prospect for the development of the country.

2.6. Like the 2016 Budget, the Budget for 2017 carries the set of contradictions of the current political context.

The Central Committee of the PCP stresses that the PS government's choice of not breaking with the essential guidelines that have characterised the right-wing policy, undermines an adequate and necessary response to the country’s structural issues.

The failure to assume a policy, namely a tax policy determined by the aim of duly taxing big business, its profits, dividends and assets, not only limits the achievement of necessary resources but leads to unfair and penalising criteria on workers and other layers of the population.

The Central Committee of the PCP draws attention, in particular, to the path of budgetary consolidation followed by the PS government in the Stability Programme and reflected in the Budget for next year. In fact, the option to set deficit targets as foreseen for 2017 (1.6% of GDP) - well beyond what could be supported for a desired exit by Portugal from the condition of "excessive deficit procedure", is itself challengeable, will set the country on a course that can make irreconcilable in the short-term the continuation of the path of pursuing and achieving rights. An option that, combined with not addressing the issue of the debt and submission to the Euro, takes away from the country thousands of millions Euros and transfers them to transnational capital, which would be indispensable for the promotion of public investment and for a full response to the rights and social functions and the creation of conditions for economic growth and sustainable development of the country.

2.7. At the same time it is worth stressing that the Proposed 2017 State Budget Legislation, besides not resuming options of worsening exploitation and impoverishment that would have been underway if the PSD/CDS government had continued its action, confirms and consolidates the advances achieved in 2016, such as the restoration of wages in Public Administration, the restoration of pension supplements in companies of State Business Sector, the replacement of four holidays, the restoration of the 35 working hours for workers in the public administration, improvement of various social benefits, the cut in VAT in restaurant bills.

The proposal for the State Budget for 2017 also establishes measures that have at their root the initiative or contribution of the PCP, like the extension of free school textbooks for around 370,000 children in the 1st cycle of primary education; reinforcement of the Social Action in Schools; unfreezing of the Social Support Index which will result in the increase of several social benefits; support for the long-term unemployed; a step forward in the framework of the contributory scheme for workers on “green receipts” (independent workers’ pay receipts).

Although insufficient, it was possible, with the PCP’s decisive intervention, to pave the way to answer the issues of workers in the State companies, namely with the reposition of collective bargaining on such matters as meal subsidy, over-time and night shifts. Regarding the reversal of restrictions imposed upon rights and income of workers of Public Administration and the development of the reversal foreseen in the 2016 State Budget, we can confirm the thawing of the meal subsidy and the increase of its daily value, along a path that needs to extend further and to other matters. We also register the reposition of the right to payment of half of the Christmas subsidy in the proper time (with half of the payment in twelfths), and instituting the reposition of its integral and single payment in 2018.

A matter of undeniable importance and value is the increase of pensions. Following PCP’s continuous and committed intervention towards valuing pensions and carriers, the State Budget enshrines advances regarding 2016, establishing a increase in pensions for 98% of pensioners, 2 million and 600 thousand, who find their pensions updated according to the law, and with one million and 500 thousand having an increase of 10 euros.

There were also positive steps in the support and stimulus to micro, small and medium companies, in the perspective of reducing energy costs for families and companies, and tax relief for people with disabilities and reinforcing the support for the Arts.

The increase on property tax upon properties of high value represents a step, albeit timid, towards introducing criteria of social justice in taxes, which PCP has fought for.

2.8. As PCP has underlined, the issue before us is between choosing the face the constraints, pressures and blackmails of Big Capital and the EU, or not being able to respond to the Country’s needs for development and the problems and aspirations of the Portuguese people. The non-integral reversal of the IRS overtax until the end of 2016, the increase in indirect taxes which had already occurred in the 2016 State Budget, the freeze in wages and careers in Public Administration, the limits upon public investment, the resistance to more courageous steps in taxing big capital, the maintenance of public-private partnerships, confirm negative aspects of the current proposal that warrant PCP’s fight and denouncement.

The State Budget proposal, while not the one the Country needs, does open however the possibility, which should not be underestimated or squandered, to restore and conquer rights. PCP’s favorable vote for the Budget in general aims to allow an intervention in specialty with the objective of limiting negative aspects the budget entails, and inscribe new advances that are necessary to improve the living conditions of workers and the Portuguese people. PCP’s final evaluation upon the matter will depend upon the confirmation of this perspective and the balance of all the implications according to the general life of the country.

2.9. Honoring its commitments with the workers, people and country, PCP, among many aspects, will fight in the forthcoming weeks in specialty discussion on the 2017 State Budget:

For a 10 euro increase in all pensions, include the lowest;

The end of restriction in worker’s rights and incomes of Public Administration workers; increase in wages; increase in meal subsidy and reduced contributions to health systems; for effective collective bargaining in public companies with the corresponding thaw in incomes and careers; the end of limitations upon hiring public administration workers;

For the fight against precariousness; for the revision of the contributions by independent workers, aimed towards eliminated false situations.

For the increase in the number of IRS brackets and for the increase in the minimum values of subsistence for tax purposes;

For the reinforcement and expansion of the family subsidy, unemployment subsidy and other social benefits; for the statue of chronically ill, namely fixing the right to exemption for health copayments;

For the support to micro, small and mediums companies namely reducing the value of Special Payment by Account, seeking its elimination and replacement by fairer tax criteria; for the reduction of the energy bill for the population and productive activity, namely in farming and fisheries;

For the compliance with the Local Finance Law; for the expansion of the right to housing, namely reinforcing the Porta 65 program;

For a correction of the Additional Property Tax convergent with the proposal of 1% for property over one million euros; for a tax increase for companies with profits above 35 million euros; for taxes upon financial transactions; for an additional tax for energy sector companies; for the reversal of Private-public partnerships and measures aimed at renegotiating the public debt.

2.10. Independently of the final version of the 2017 State Budget, PCP’s Central Committee alerts attention to what is becoming increasingly obvious as the path imposed by the submission to monopolists groups, the EU and the Euro narrows: the need for a rupture with the right-wing policy that opens the way for an alternative patriotic and left-wing policy.

For PCP, as the State Budget reveals, the Country’s situation demands a policy free of blackmail and submission to the impositions of the EU and the Euro and the interests of monopolist capital.

In fact, it is in a patriotic and left-wing policy that we will find answer to the structural problems in the life of the country that, with current PS government, continues to be postponed. Freedom from the submission to the Euro, articulated with the renegotiation of the debt and recovering the public control of the banks and other strategic sectors; valuing worker’s wages and rights; the defense of national production; a fair tax system; valuing and improving the public services and social functions of the State; the defense of sovereignty and national interests facing the impositions of big capital and the EU; all these constitute, in fact, an alternative path, necessary given the contradictions and impasses Portugal is facing.

Along this path, PCP affirms itself as an indispensable and irreplaceable force for this process of rupture with the right-wing policy and a change in national life, for the social and economic transformations according to the project enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic.

3. Reinforce the Party, prepare the 20th Congress, promote political initiative, and dynamize the mass struggle

3.1. PCP’s Central Committee underlines, in the framework of a broad and diversified Party intervention, the development of the national action Employment-Rights-Production-Sovereignty and the national campaign “More rights. More future. No to the precariousness”. We also highlight: the initiatives on rents, housing, the passage of higher education institutions to foundations, the threats upon the taxi sector, valuing the public transports; the Parliamentary action in the Porto district giving focus to the issues of energy and development of national production; the diverse initiatives on some of the main constraints confronting the country: the euro, debt, banks; the activity of organizations on multiple aspects of local and national reality; important legislative initiatives including, for example, the rent system protecting elderly residents, the application of property tax criteria, the financing of parties decreasing public subvention, and fighting demagoguery, the restitution of parishes and other initiatives about labor issues and rights, with a focus on fighting precariousness, namely temporary and precarious work; as well as initiatives at the level of the European Parliament, namely the regulation of the milk market, the renegotiation of public debts and the creation of “Programs of support to countries that want to leave the Euro”.

3.2. At a time with the determining role of the class struggle towards the restoration, defense and conquest of rights is confirmed, the Central Committee of PCP values the struggle for workers, classes and anti-monopolist groups and highlights the actions: of non-teaching staff in several public schools; the workers of SEF, teachers, local administration, the nurses strike; the actions led by the workers of Valorsul, Amarsul, Resistrela and Valnor, the CDP contact center, EMEF and other transport companies, the struggle of the laid-off workers in the Shipyards of Viana do Castelo; the struggle in the maintenance companies in the Petrogal refinery, in Solnave, in Panrico, in Groz-Beckert, in Riberalves, in Endutex, in Sinaga, the hospital centers in the West, Setúbal and East Lisbon; in VA Atlantis; in Clube Praia da Oura; in Empresa Gráfica Funchalense, the struggle of workers in private security, the demonstrations of pensioners and elderly promoted by MURPI; the struggle in the Taxi sector; the struggle of subway and TST passengers; the struggle of populations for IC1 highway; the populations of Ria Formosa, Ferreira do Zêzere, Montijo, Moita, Barreiro, S. Bartolomeu de Messines, Mourão in defense of their interests; the struggle of high school and university students.

The Central Committee underlines the particular significance of actions and struggle developed in companies, work places and the streets promoted during the week of struggle promoted by CGTP-IN that occurred between September 26 and October 1st.

The Central Committee highlights the importance of the struggle for wage increases, including the Minimum Wage to 600 euros beginning next year, against precariousness and the deregulation of the work schedule, for the repeal of grave labor legislation norms, in defense of collective bargaining and rights, and denouncing the ongoing maneuvers by the Employer’s confederation and UGT aimed at stopping the increase in wages and worsen the exploitation of workers.

Conscious of the determinant character that the mass struggle will assume in the development of the political situation, the Central Committee reaffirms the need for demands by workers from the workplace, companies and sectors, highlighting the struggle in the transport companies and the national demonstration of Public Administration workers called by the Common Front of Unions for November 18th in Lisbon.

The Central Committee of PCP also salutes the realization of important Congresses and initiatives namely the 8th National Conference of Interjovem/CGTP-IN, as well as the Congress of the National Confederation of Organizations of the Disabled.

The Central Committee marks the event on October 29th, in Peniche, of former political prisoners, in defense of the preservation of the Peniche Fort ensuring the preservation of the memory of resistance to fascism and struggle for freedom.

3.3. The Central Committee underlines the electoral results obtained by CDU in the elections for the Regional Legislative Assembly in the Azores which translated into an important electoral reinforcement and the election of a regional parliament member. A result all the more significant given the framework in which they were held, confirming the prestige of PCP and CDU and its work in the defense of the interest of the populations of the autonomous regions, expressed by the fact in several electoral circles there was in increase in the votes for CDU, for instance in the Flores island.

3.4. In a framework in which is important to continue to affirm the local work of CDU in the service of populations and as a space of convergence of many democrats and patriots, the Central Committee of PCP underlines the importance of intensifying the accountability of work developed throughout the mandate, as well as the multiplication of contacts, aimed at enlarging CDU and preparing the local elections.

3.5. The struggle for the defense, restitution and conquest of rights is essential to the defense of the interests of Portuguese workers and people and constitutes a decisive element towards the rupture with the dominion of monopolist capital and the freedom of the country from the submission to the European Union and the Euro, towards achieving a political alternative.

3.6. The Central Committee of PCP underlines the important work already undergone and considers the preparation of the 20th Congress of PCP as a task of the greatest importance and the main priority of the Party work. The third phase of the preparation of the Congress with the discussion of the Theses – Project of Political Resolution, with a contribution of the Party members in improving it and electing delegates, constitutes an further affirmation of the democratic working of the Party, a contribution to the political and ideological formation of the party collective and an opportunity for the reinforcement of the Party.

The Central Committee appeals to the militants and Party organizations to commit towards the success of the 20th Congress of PCP, reinforcing a confidant intervention towards achieving its program “An advanced democracy – the values of April in the future of Portugal”, for socialism and communism.