Welcome to the Week em Breve! This Week’s News in Portugal: Doctor’s Debt, Stabilizing House Prices, Racists on TV, More Jobs Than Applicants, Wave Goodbye to 500€, and much more!
The Doctor’s Debt
The national health service’s debt to suppliers and creditors has increased 52% in the past three years. The debt totaled 2.9 billion euros in 2017, which shows a considerable worsening as revealed by an audit by the Tribunal de Contas. This comes after a 6.1% reduction in national health service funding between 2015 and 2017 as compared with the three years before. Additionally, the Ministry of Health’s costs increased in 2017, mainly due to increased personnel costs.
Real Estate Prices Could Stabilize in 2019
With wildly rising house prices, talk of a real estate bubble in Lisbon and Portugal as a whole has of course surfaced. However, as we move into 2019, the market is expected to stabilize and house prices are projected to fall, with some property owners already opting to lower their sale prices by as much as 10%, industry leaders told Sol. This is in part due to lengthening sale times, but also the increase in the number of new properties, which is expected to drive the cost of second-hand homes down.
No Tax Break for Gasoline
The start of 2019 saw a drop in the tax on gasoline, which was good news for many, considering Portugal’s notably high fuel taxes. However, just four days later, there was a bump in carbon taxes. This was already accounted for in the state budget and saw the tax increase 1.3 cents for gasoline and 1.5 cents for diesel. This means that any drop in cost you may have seen with the turn of the year will be canceled out. Sorry to all the drivers out there!
Over 45,000 Portuguese Companies Created in 2018
2018 saw the largest number of companies set up in Portugal since 2007, reaching a total of 45,191, according to Informa D&B. This is an increase of 10% compared with 2017, which was also a record year. A whopping 40% — more than 18,000 companies — are in the tourism sector, reflecting the significance of the industry in the national economy. Lisbon topped the charts as the region with the most startups, standing at 15,800 — a 13.7% increase compared with 2017. The capital was followed by Porto and Setúbal with 8,142 and 3,377 respectively.
Montijo Airport Agreement Signed
After a lot of toing and froing about Montijo airport, it seems as if it is pushing ahead: on Tuesday, the ANA (Aeroportos de Portugal) and the Portuguese government signed an agreement. Vinci, which controls ANA, will be responsible for all the Montijo airport investment costs, and the project is expected to be completed by 2022.
Known Racist Debates Dictators on Talk Show
Widespread controversy has followed the appearance of Mário Machado — a convicted violent racist — on a popular TV show. Machado had spent 12 years in prison for various crimes, including coercion, kidnapping, possession of illegal weapons and assault with intent to cause serious bodily harm, among others. But Machado is most famous for being the one-time leader of the Hammerskins skinhead group, whose members were convicted of the murder of a Cape Verdean man in Lisbon 23 years ago. After trying to clean up his image, Machado now heads up the New Social Order party. He recently appeared on TVI Você Na TV for a show asking, “Do we need a new Salazar?” Since its airing, numerous complaints have been made to the Entidade Reguladora para a Comunicação Social (ERC). Additionally, the show has been condemned in an open letter by 271 individuals and 35 collectives, which can be read in full here.
Portugal Has 30,000 Job Vacancies, but Nobody Is Applying
The unemployment rate in Portugal is 6.7%, but the number of unanswered job openings is rising, according to data from the Ministry of Labor. This is most notable in the construction sector, which saw an almost 50% increase in unanswered vacancies — now 2,398 — since the last quarter of 2017. It didn’t have the largest total number, however: trade and catering sector had 9,876 vacancies. Why are there jobless people and peopleless jobs? Low wages and precarious work that falls far short of expectations, according to Arménio Carlos, leader of the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers.
Largest Euro Bill to Leave Circulation
You’ll have to rummage under your mattress and break open your piggy bank this year: the 500€ bill is leaving circulation. From January 27, central banks around Europe (excluding Germany and Austria) will begin to withhold this famous bill. Its production was already halted due to fears of its use in illicit activities, but now all of them will be permanently withdrawn. Publico thought it imperative to inform us that the 500€ bill was given the nickname Bin Laden, due to it being known by all but seen by few.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!