Opposition leader demands ‘appropriate measures’ for the economic reality of the Algarve

91opposition leaderThe Government "has an obligation" to create "appropriate measures" to the difficult economic situation that the Algarve already suffers from, and is only set to worsen, defended Rui Rio, president of the main opposition party the PSD, today, on the sidelines of a meeting with local businessmen at Albufeira Council.

“What I understand, from what I have heard, is that beyond the measures that have to exist for the Portuguese economy, there is, in fact, a specificity: a great dependence that the Algarve has on tourism, being that this is the sector activity most affected by the pandemic,” said Rui Rio. For this reason, “the Government naturally has an obligation to look at this region and its specificity”.

Defending that tourism is "extremely important for Portugal's balance of payments", the leader of the opposition party said that the Government must "find measures that are not even positive discrimination, they are measures that are appropriate to the circumstances" of the Algarve. In other words, "the Algarve cannot be treated in the same way as the North or the Centre or Lisbon".

“This more concentrated support in August and September, to companies, through the lay-off scheme may make sense, but, in fact, these months are the least bad. Given the seasonality in October, in November and thereafter, if companies do not bill in a minimally balanced way in summer - and we know they are not - how will they face the low season?”, he asked.

“Serious social problems are foreseen here in the Algarve. I do not mean to solve them, because it is impossible, but to mitigate them” is, considered Rio.

Thus, it would be pertinent for the Government to provide "a support in view of this circumstance, as only in at least April will things be able to be mitigated". After all, this "is a specificity that exists in the Algarve and that does not exist elsewhere in the country".

The opposition party leader came to the Algarve to meet with representatives from local businesses and associations, aiming to pass their voices on in the Assembly of the Republic to "take care of reality".

What he heard from the representatives of eight Algarve business associations was an account of a situation that is, in itself, very complex, with a certainty of things turning direr as autumn looms.

Their testimony matches the opinion already expressed yesterday by Elidérico Viegas, from AHETA, in statements to journalists, after a meeting with the Secretary of State for Tourism.

In other words, the associations consider that the economic aid measures announced yesterday by the Government at a national level do not fit the situation of the Algarve. What would be needed, said the association leaders, would be the continuity of a simplified lay-off scheme into 2021, complemented by a subsidized training program in the low season, as well as the extension of the bank loan payment moratorium and deferral of taxes until the end of 2021, among other measures.

Rio heard the "alerts and concerns", but he did not want, in the heat of the moment, to commit himself to any of the proposals put forward by the representatives.

Asked, specifically, about the extension of the moratoriums and tax aid until the end of 2021, the PSD leader stressed that he "still had to see". "At the end of the day, I count on having in my head those that I consider the measures that may be most impactful, among all that has been said," he assured.

“I am here to listen, to take care of reality. Because it is very different to be outside the places where problems exist, where we hear about them and look at the numbers. We perceive, but we do not feel”, he said. In fact, he said, this consultation with local representatives was something that he believes "should be done by the Government, in particular by the Minister of Economy".

“All of these entrepreneurs made an effort, intellectually, to find solutions and proposals, because they are the ones who are experiencing the problems”, he said. “It is always important to listen before actually announcing measures”, concluded Rui Rio.

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+2 #4 Peter Booker 2020-08-04 12:17
Thank you Stuart. It was interesting to read.

My heart sank when I read this paragraph:
"On the south and west the Algarve faces the Atlantic and its excellent geographic position on the extreme southwest point of Europe has been strategic for a rapid access to European markets and to the USA eastern seaboard and Africa." I have no idea how this geographical truism helps in terms of economic development.

"The activities related to fishing in addition to the economic role, also have an important social function, as they serve as formal and informal support to many families (particularly in the current socio-economic context). This may also be the sectors with the greatest potential for growth in employment (including the activities associated with aquaculture and the processing of these products). Agriculture, with emphasis on some products already today competitive in the international market, is another highlight areas for similar reasons." Fisheries, fish products, aquaculture, agriculture are here already. Biotechnology and biosciences are strong.

It goes on to say that the Algarve needs more R&D, and more support for entrepreneurs. Hear hear. But no lead in what kind of entrepreneur.
+3 #3 Stuart Wood 2020-08-04 09:20
Good ideas and thoughts in here; https://s3platform.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/20182/92074/ALGARVE+REGIONv2.pdf/8cf33c4e-a4b0-41ff-87d5-39274e3c59d6, but usual failure to execute or extend is the problem. As it mentions in the publication, tourism is just too easy and generates simple income with little hard work involved, but is not sustainable in the long term.
-2 #2 Peter Booker 2020-08-03 16:16
It´s all very well to criticise "the government" for not diversifying in the Algarve. If it were economically attractive, I dare say other entrepreneurs would have taken advantage.

But we do have acres (or hectares?) of greenhouses, growing fruit for the market. And who works in them? Asians, mainly. In England, English do not want agricultural work (hard and low paid); here in the Algarve, the same is true of Portuguese.

What kind of businesses would Stuart like to see? Why would the Algarve be suitable?
+9 #1 Stuart Wood 2020-08-02 07:34
At last it appears that someone has woken up to the reality of the situation, alternatives have to be found to reliance on tourism to maintain the local economy. It seems to me that the governments only plan is to beg and scrape through this year with enough tourist money to avoid having to do or think about anything else and then simply wait for things to open up again next year, bury their head in sand and then continue with “business” as usual. Portugal has been in the EU for 34 years and still allows raw sewage to be discharge into bathing waters, Monte Gordo beach shut down for coliform? We are not living in 50’s, simply no excuse for this these days, as well all the other infrastructure shortfalls that exist despite the EU funding.

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