Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: An MP for the Animals, Tax and Economic Warnings, the Fight for Equal Rights, Upping Petroleum but Reducing Paper, Alojamento Local and more!
Who said the news always has to be bad? Medium and large animals will now be able to ride on Carris transport! This follows a recommendation by the Pessoas-Animais-Natureza party (PAN), which also included the request that tickets should be based on the socioeconomic situation of the holder and the size of the animal. It will not be a rolling petting zoo, however, with carriers and leashes required as well as restricted times and numbers.
PAN isn’t just focussed on your poodle, they have their sights set on a much bigger target. They announced a bill that would ban bullfighting in Portugal, which is one of the few countries where it remains. The party says that entertainment doesn’t trump an animal’s right to life, as their sole MP, André Silva, refutes the idea of it being part of Portugal’s cultural heritage. PAN has previously fought against broadcasting bullfights, but this is the first time they are presenting a bill to outright ban the practice.
So PAN is coming out swinging, but what have the other parties been up to this week? Well, the socialists made the news by… being socialists. That’s right, the general secretary of the PCP, Jerónimo de Sousa, has called for the re-nationalization of EDP. This follows a takeover bid by China Three Gorges, a Chinese state-owned power company. In a battle that doesn’t look to be going away any time soon, this deal is set to be the litmus test of attitudes toward Chinese investment.
The tax charged by the Portuguese government in 2017 was the highest it has been since 1995, totaling €3.34 billion! Most of this increase comes from IVA, IRC and contribuições sociais. Statistics Portugal, which released the data, said that this put the tax burden at 34.7% of GDP last year, which is still lower than the European average.
The GDP is growing, tax receipts are rising, the Portuguese economy seems on the up-and-up. Well, Jean Tirole has come to rain on that parade, warning that while Portugal “has been behaving better than other countries,” the country “clearly, and given the circumstances, cannot declare victory, because the crisis can come back.” The Nobel Prize-winning economist was quick to point out, however, that he is no expert on the Portuguese economy. Still worth listening to, perhaps.
We have mentioned the Associação Solidariedade Imigrante before thanks to their very active role in the Mayday parade. They are back in the news this week after holding a demonstration outside the Assembleia da República. They were demanding equal rights for immigrants, as it’s often a struggle for them to get paperwork or access to the national health service.
Other demonstrations have taken place due to the Portuguese Environmental Agency giving the go-ahead to exploratory drilling in Aljezur. They concluded that “there are no significant negative impacts.” Many environmentalists and local residents oppose the drilling, and the decision comes after a long public consultation. However, it seems that this “consultation” didn’t really take into account what a lot of the respondents said.
Portugal is set to modernize its courts’ bureaucracy following the realization that they spend €20 million a year processing paper. It is reported that €18 million of this is spent on mail, and the remaining €2 million is on items like ink and paper. Computerization has begun, and it is not just to tackle the high costs, but also due to environmental concerns and to improve the access to files.
It seems a week cannot pass without alojamento local coming up at least once. Câmara de Lisboa is looking to step into the role of regulator when it comes to holiday lets in the city. The Câmara has proposed that quotas are the solution. They can be used to limit the number of alojamento local in popular historical districts, and encourage them in other neighborhoods. It was made very clear that there was no intention to stop holiday lets, so it looks as though Airbnb will continue to reign supreme.