August 30, 2018 by Eden Flaherty
The Week em Breve – August 30
Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: More Train Troubles, Gender Discrimination, Tourism Targets, Plastic Pollution, Unaffordable Housing, and much more!
Terrible Trains Cause Job Losses
Oh, Comboios Portugal! How often we say your name! This week, it has been reported that people have lost shifts, time, and even their jobs because of the problems CP is suffering. The delays on several lines, especially since the start of the summer, have meant that people living in outer boroughs have been unable to regularly attend work on time, or have had to take alternative transport — sometimes twice the time of the train — to make it to their jobs. This has allegedly resulted in people being fired, as well as some people having to give up hours, shifts, and overtime because they are no longer able to get to work.
Men Complain of Gender Discrimination
Sometimes the news takes us by surprise. The perfect example is the 2017 statistics from the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality. Throughout last year, they only received five complaints of people being “discriminated against in accessing goods and services” because of their gender. Four of these five complaints were from men! The discrimination claims included women paying lower entry to the Web Summit and football games, and lower insurance premiums. The fifth complaint was by a woman and, in a surprise twist, was again about men being discriminated against! The organization found that none of the claims were valid under current laws because the difference in prices was a “positive action measure, provided for by law… to encourage [women’s] participation.”
Too Many Tourists?
The Portuguese Communist Party has asked for a study on the impact of tourists in Lisbon. Not only hotel stays and economic benefits, but tourists’ broader impact on the social landscape of the city. The proposal was backed by the Geography and Spatial Planning of the University of Lisbon, which concluded that “the capacity of tourist load has already been exceeded in some quarters.” These high “tourist loads” are being blamed for the expulsion of residents and high house prices. The proposal aims for an in-depth study followed by appropriate targets.
The demand for an in-depth look into the impact of tourism may not seem so far-fetched when the World Tourism Organisation ranks Portugal as having the fourth largest amount of tourists in Southern Europe. This was due to an increase of 12% last year, bringing the total number of tourists to a whopping 12.7 million for the year. Tourism and related sectors now account for roughly 10% of Portugal’s GDP. However, the country still falls behind the likes of France and Spain.
A Bribe by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet
Many talented Portuguese youths left the country during the economic crisis. Now, Portugal wants them back. The Portuguese government is planning to offer incentives for them to return in 2019, including a 50% discount on income tax. Those registered for tax in Portugal up to 2015 will qualify, and while it is aimed at young Portuguese professionals, it is open to anyone regardless of age, qualifications, or nationality, as long as they’re from a European Union country. If you’re reading this from afar, perhaps it’s time to think about coming back to Lisbon!
PAN Argues Against Portuguese Pollution
PAN (People–Animals–Nature) is urging the Portuguese government to get on board with the United Nations “Clean Seas” campaign launched last year. They want Portugal to join the existing 44 countries that have committed to tackling the pollution of the world’ds oceans with plastics and microplastics. According to PAN, each person in Portugal produces an average of 36 kg of plastic waste per year, which is 5 kg more than the European average. They argue that it is no longer acceptable to sit on the sidelines, and instead Portugal must take an active role in stopping pollution.
Incentives for Affordable Rents
In 2015, the Portuguese government launched the “Rehabilitar para Arrendar” (Refurbish to Rent) scheme. Backed by the European Investment Bank, it offered landlords up to €25 million in loans to refurbish old properties or build new properties for the affordable housing market. Since its launch, there have been only 10 projects financed by the scheme. The repayment date for loans has now been extended following a request by the Portuguese Institute of Housing and Urban Rehabilitation, but that doesn’t mean we will see any more of the “fixed-rent affordable housing” they had hoped for.
It’s AL or Nothing for Greedy Landlords
Why would landlords not create affordable housing? Because it doesn’t make enough money! Unlike short-term rentals (alojamento local), which have continued to grow. In fact, there were 1,108 registrations with the Lisbon city council in one month alone! The Portuguese parliament has approved a law, although it has yet to go into effect, that would suspend new AL being registered for tourists in high-demand typical Lisbon neighborhoods. Let’s see how this plays out…
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!