Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Riotous Renters, High-End Hackers, Winning at Wine and Corruption, Corruption, Corruption.
Apartments Auctioned, People Lose Their Minds
The Câmara de Lisboa attempted to auction off eight properties for rent last week, with little success. Well, perhaps that is the wrong way to put it; they were too successful. A T1 apartment set to go for €350 ended up with bids of well over €700! Thankfully, the municipality saw sense and declared the whole auction annulled as it didn’t comply with the Programa Renda Acessível (PRA). The worst part is that this isn’t even shocking anymore.
Parliamentary Group Aims for Affordable Housing
Not all hope is lost, however, as a Partido Socialista parliamentary group for housing proposed a draft law to tackle the problem. Part of the legislation would allow municipalities to take “unjustifiably vacant” houses and rent them out. The law, based off of a public survey last year, would apply to public buildings and, more importantly, privately owned properties. Did somebody say redistribution of wealth?
Who Needs an LX Apartment When You Have One in NYC?
Are the politicians to be trusted, though? No. Manuel Pinho, former Economy Minister, is suspected of having four offshore accounts. Yes, four. It is alleged that he received €500,000 into one of these accounts, which may have been used to by a New York apartment. He is also accused of corruption related to the ongoing EDP case. Where did the money come from? Ricardo Salgado, allegedly, who is the former president of Banco Espírito Santo and now faces criminal charges.
All for the Sake of a Greasy Buck
But wait, there’s more! We shouldn’t trust businesses either, with consultancy firm EY finding that 46% of those surveyed in Portugal claim bribery and corruption are widespread. This places the country as the 19th most corrupt of the 55 countries surveyed! The head of fraud investigation at EY for Portugal claims that this is due to there being no entity in place to tackle the corruption.
Fighting the Good Fight
There may not be an official body, but the youth of Portugal are stepping up to the challenge. É Apenas Fumaça is an independent journalism project that produces one of the most listened-to podcasts in the country. They focus on democracy in Portugal, the decisions made, and the people making them. They hit the news this week as they received an €80,000 grant, which co-founder Ricardo Ribeiro said will help to “continue [their] independent, progressive and dissident journalism.” They sound like our kind of people.
You the Real MVH, André Baptista
A Portuguese hacker, André Baptista, won the title of Most Valuable Hacker at a recent Hackerone competition in Washington, D.C. Despite being extremely talented in his field, he has avoided being poached and instead works in research for the cybersecurity of Portugal. He also dedicates his time to running a hacking team of about 15 students, training the next generation of Lightmans. Good work, André.
Autonomous Automotives on the Roads of Portugal
Cybersecurity experts are going to become ever more valuable as the country turns to tech. This is being seen as Spain and Portugal are set to begin testing self-driving cars between Porto and Vigo and between Évora and Mérida using 5G to communicate between the vehicles. Furthermore, Cascais is said to be testing two autonomous vehicles for public transport, so watch those roads, people!
Oof, That Deficit
In 2017, Portugal had the second largest budget deficit within the European Union. Ahead only of Spain, Portugal had a deficit of 3% of GDP. This is down to the impact of the capitalization of Caixa Geral de Depósitos, and without this, the deficit would have stood at 0.9%. This would have been in line with the Eurozone, which was at 0.9% for 2017.
Quality Over Quantity
Portugal held onto its title of the ninth largest wine producer in the world in 2017. It unsurprisingly comes in behind Italy, France, and Spain, which accounted for 54.6% of the world market last year. What is surprising, however, is that Portugal comes behind the United States, which holds eighth place. Portugal may be behind in production, but I’ll take a vinho verde over a budget California Chardonnay any day, thanks.