The 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.