A week of news and views from the Algarve…
Former prime minister of Portugal and latterly president on the European Commission, the millionaire former-Maoist, José Manuel Durão Barroso, already has been embarrassed by the withdrawal of the red carpet treatment should he visit former colleagues in Brussels.
His new bosses at the Great Vampire Squid, Goldman Sachs, gave Barroso a job ‘advising on the effects of Brexit’ and expected at least that the new boy would be able to open doors at the Commission and walk right into the offices of those in power.
Barroso now faces an ethics committee over his acceptance of the highly paid new job and already has written to the EC president Jean-Claude Juncker stating "it has been argued that the mere fact of my working with Goldman Sachs raises integrity issues." Got it in one, José, in fact of all the post-president jobs you could have accepted, this was the worst possible choice.
Surprising then that Portugal’s current PM, António Costa, stepped into the Barroso row on Friday by demanding a written explanation from Juncker. Costa says he can’t just stand by while a Portuguese citizen suffers discrimination.
Hint to Costa: ‘leave well alone,’ this is not you fight or your concern.
If the PM is so concerned at discrimination against Portuguese citizens, there are plenty of blatant examples at home, not least the continuing programme of demolitions of properties on the Ria Formosa islands to help rid the islands of its residents which is the unstated long-term goal.
Users of the Via do Infante motorway near the Faro exit cannot help but be impressed at the speed with which the new Ikea store is being erected. Cranes crowd the skyline and press releases from the company have increased in vapidity as there is not really much to say.
‘Spring 2017’ is the latest guesstimate for the opening of the Swedish-owned store and the company is attracting new employees using social media.
There was a recruitment ad last week for school leavers and those still at school to join an in-store job training scheme. This should help keep the running costs down during those difficult start-up years...
Road access to Ikea will be speeded by the recent opening of the Almancil bypass extension. It seems lucky that this job was finished before the summer recess for the EN125 roadworks programme which should have recommenced on September 1st.
As the government has not paid the main contractor, Rotas do Algarve Litoral, which in turn has not felt inclined to pay its sub-contractors for their sterling efforts to populate the EN125 with as many roundabouts as possible, the various roadworks in the section west of Olhão remain at a standstill and will do so until the cash is forthcoming.
Opposition MPs have spotted that the government seems to have engaged in a policy of slow payment of its outstanding bills, despite appearing to hold adequate working funds. This behaviour sets a poor example and speedy payments have many positive economic effects - as the government has been telling Portugal’s businesses for years.
The Asset Administration Bureau, a division of the Asset Recovery Office of the Judicial Police, should be a fun place to work, grabbing posh motors and properties from crooks and auctioning them off to relieve the taxpayer’ burden. Indeed, €222 million so far has been seized from those making crime their career choice.
Examples of the car maker’s art from Rolls Royce, Porsche and Jaguar are unable to be sold due to a legal complication worthy of ‘Yes Minister.’
The seized properties and cars may not be sold in case the owners later are acquitted on appeal and might want them back.
The ruling decree law seems to have been approved with little experience of reality so those in the Asset Administration Bureau will continue to sit on their assets until they are allowed to get on with their real jobs of maximising sale values from the proceeds of crime. Sir Humphrey would be proud…
One can not help but notice the increasing media presence of the former Finance Minister, Maria Luís Albuquerque, for whom the bright light of open government and clear explanation was always a challenge.
In fact, Albuquerque’s memory has become so selective that she has started to criticise herself as well as her former boss Pedro Passos Coelho.
Maria Luís claims now to have wanted the sale of Novo Banco to have gone through the first time around, even though this would have blown a hole in the 2015 State accounts, and said "there are many unanswered questions" at Caixa Geral de Depósitos - questions that she refused to answer when in charge and determined to hide the bank’s crippling problems until after the 2015 general election.
The stain of suspicion remains with this politician even before she took over at the Finance Ministry as, when working at the Debt Management Agency, her office approved the ruinous deals which saw State-owned businesses beggared by escalating repayments to banks such as Santander.
This was due to entirely avoidable 'snowball' clauses in 'off balance sheet borrowings' that in the case of Metro de Porto left the company paying interest of 40% on debts carrying a headline 4.79% repayment rate. Albuquerque denied all knowledge of any of these deals, a position that few can greet as credible.
Albuquerque currently is engaged in erasing her political history as she wants to be a prime minister. The press should not play along with her game however many cosy ‘exclusive’ interviews she does to try and airbrush her past.
To Alcoutim, the council area whose eastern border is defined by the Guadiana river and whose councillors take seriously the area's depopulation problems evident in many rural municipalities.
The latest encouragement to residents and those the council wants to attract to this beautiful part of the Algarve is to keep property taxes at the lowest possible rate and to forego the local income tax percentage normally credited to council accounts by the Tax Authority.
Already, like Monchique which suffers similar problems, the 'baby grant' acts to encourage frequent and unprotected sex to boost the local head count. The low cost of property and property ownership also should help persuade incomers to embrace Alcoutim's dedication to procreational activities.
To the west where Vila do Bispo council has announced an exhibition in its interpretation centre.
"Origins of the Prehistoric Kingdom of the Algarve" has as a centrepiece a stone carving of an aurochs dated to around 22,000 BC.
Other artefacts, including many from the Vale Boi site in Budens, are from the lower Palaeolithic to the Chalcolithic period. If you visit the exhibition, all will be explained.
A wave of relief last week swept across those in the Algarve whose income derives from the region’s ports.
The president of the ‘Ports Authority of Sines and of the Algarve,’ João Soares Franco, has been replaced, as has his entire board in a move that can only help Faro and Portimão.
The seemingly deliberate delay to the much-needed expansion of Portimão's quayside and the lack of progress in upgrading Faro docks has served to increase the animosity triggered when the management of the Algarve’s ports was moved to Sines by the Passos Coelho government.
Franco’s possibly well-refreshed commentary to the assembled press at his leaving do laid bare his negative attitude towards the Algarve and its potential for growth should the Portimão quayside be lengthened and the cruise ship turning area dredged.
João Franco’s opinion of Portimão was that "the cruise business will never pay for the investment" and that in addition to environmental implications, extending the docks in Portimão "will have little economic viability."
This was not his decision to make nor did he have the authority to air this opinion. The investment already had been analysed by the former Minister for the Economy Pires de Lima in 2014, who as a businessman saw immediately the viability of developing Portimão’s quayside and agreed a €10 million investment in the Algarve’s ports just for starters.
Maybe now the deliberately delayed report and costings for this viable maritime development will be forthcoming and larger cruise ships soon will be able safely to dock in the Algarve bringing thousands of new tourists to the region.
It was with sadness that I posted a news item last week about a former volunteer fireman arrested for setting fires in forests in and around Proença-a-Nova in the Castelo Branco region.
His habit of driving through forested areas throwing home-made firebombs out of his car window is despicable and when the 46-year-old is found guilty, the judges are unlikely to go easy when it comes to sentencing.
Portugal’s firemen will be as distressed and angry as the public by news of this case but in no way should these senseless acts detract from the moral and financial support we are happy to given to the fire service which relies on volunteers for 90% of its workforce.
Well done to the police who have arrested 72 people this year for setting forest fires, an impressive result when considering the solitary nature of the crime.
For those wishing to help raise funds for the Bombeiros, there is a fun event in Silves on Saturday 24th September:
With distressing parallels to the Madeleine McCann case, Ben Needham’s family has been waiting since 1991 for news of the toddler who went missing from the Greek island of Kos.
The police seem at last to have found the answer to Ben’s disappearance and are ‘no longer looking for a missing person’ but now will search for Ben’s remains. A digger driver working near the holiday home is likely to have accidentally killed the lad and, in a panic, buried him.
Ben’s mother’s comments are particularly harrowing and show the effect a missing child has on any parent.
Madeleine McCann has been missing since May 3rd, 2007 and so far there has been not a single credible explanation as to her whereabouts or fate.
Portugal’s cheery and empathetic population are in favour of welcoming Syrian refugees to live here. In Spain and Portugal, 67% of those polled said “bring it on” when asked if they would have any problem in accepting the refugees.
Within Europe, only the Irish scored higher on the empathy chart, but that’s to be expected from the Irish - a cheery lot.
As for ‘Les Misérables,’ the French were not at all willing to have more foreigners invade their hallowed homeland, superseded only by those in the Czech Republic for their dislike of refugees and for their general grumpiness towards their fellow man.
Portugal needs more people or must accept that its population will continue a long-term decline and react accordingly to reduce the number of schools and increase automation in industry.
PM António Costa already has said Portugal will take 10,000 refugees and would not be averse to taking 20,000 - if the price is right as each comes with a resettlement grant.
So far Portugal has been sent fewer than 800 refugees from the Greek camps, some of whom already have left their new homes in Portugal and made their way to Germany and other northern European countries where job prospects are rosier.
The problem is not within our borders, the processing system in Greece is slow and many offered a place in Portugal prefer to stay in temporary squalor and wait for a chance to get to Germany.
Finally, to art and in addition to Jill Stott's ever-popular Life Drawing classes each Thursday,
here is a selection of sketches from Algarve artist Edwin Hagendoorn whose swiftness of hand captures those going about their daily business.
A public meeting at the parish council of Ferrarias, Silves, on Thurday evening had to be moved...
Portugal’s government has launched its ‘cheap diesel’ trial for HGVs filling up close to the border with...
Spain's Doñana wetlands area is reported to have lost 80% of its natural water supplies, putting it...
Monsanto, the American agrochemical giant and producer of genetically-modified seeds, is to merge with another crop chemical...
The Algarve Tourist Association has reported record figures from the booming golf market with 691,676 rounds played
The 7th Annual afpop-Medal Insurance Open Golf Tournament was held on Wednesday...
The Algarve Archaelogical Assocation is organising a trip to Torres Vedras/Lourinho on...
A significant milestone was recently reached when the Algarve Wednesday Walkers (AWW)...
Golf is the number one, year-round leisure activity of visitors to the Algarve and over the past 18 months, there’s...
Make the most of this late September sun with a glass of bubbly and stunning views from these terrific terraces.
A growing number of homeowners are turning to the online property portal, Beverywhere.com, to advertise and sell their homes, saving...
Charles Owen, one of the finest British pianists of his generation, will be giving two concerts for the Amigos de Música at Os Agostos. On Tuesday September 27th, 2016 Charles...
Until next week
Social media buffs can follow algarvedailynews.com on these two sites...
|Follow us on Twitter||Visit us on Facebook|