January 3, 2019 by Eden Flaherty
The Week em Breve – January 3
Welcome to the Week em Breve! This Week’s News in Portugal: Tourist Tax Doubles, Algarve Disneyland, Overcharging Taxis, Rental Tax Breaks, Green Airlines, and much more!
Tourist Tax Doubles for the New Year
Did your new year’s wish come true? Because Lisbon City Council’s did with a 100% increase in the “tourist tax.” In a decision that was approved in December, the Municipal Tourist Tax went from 1€ to 2€ per night Jan. 1. This applies to those staying in hotels as well as in alojamento local, excluding children under 13 and those in Lisbon for medical treatment. The increased tax will be invested in urban hygiene and transportation in areas that see heavy tourism, according to the council.
Could Disney Animate the Algarve Economy?
A group of French and Portuguese “entrepreneurs” — part of the Câmara de Comércio e Indústria Franco-Portuguesa — are pushing for a Disneyland to be built in the Algarve. The CCIFP proposed the idea at its recently held national meeting in Faro, with their president Carlos Vinhas Pereira saying a non-water related theme park could attract tourists in the off-season.
Hi Fly Pilots Project to Reduce Single-Use Plastics
Despite all its delays and problems, Lisbon airport was the starting point for the world’s first plastic-free passenger flight. Charter airline Hi Fly jumped on the “no single-use plastics” bandwagon with a flight from Lisbon to Natal, Brazil, using a range of bamboo cutlery, compostable paper trays, and other “greener” alternative. This was the first of four trials by the airline and part of a wider movement by flight operators to reduce single-use plastics.
Overcharging Rife Among Airport Taxis?
The police have increased the inspection of taxis at Lisbon airport and elsewhere in the city to try to curb illegal overcharging. Five drivers were arrested last weekend for making incoming tourists pay more than the meter shows for trips from Humberto Delgado airport. While all the drivers have since been released, they will be appearing in court in the near future.
Driver of Derailed Tram Faces Disciplinary Action
In other transport news, the driver of the tram that derailed at the end of last year is set to face disciplinary action. This comes after an inquiry found the accident on Rua S. Domingos was caused by human error, when the driver failed to comply with road signs, according to Carris. While original reports fueled fear about a “failed breaking attempt,” the report found that the breaks were in perfect working order.
Left Bloc Attempts to Avoid Negative Equity
As real estate prices continue to drive both hope and fear, the Left Bloc has proposed that if a property is returned to a bank, then the related loan be wiped in full. The devaluation of property, such as the one that took place in 2008, can lead to negative equity, whereby the value of a foreclosed property fails to cover the initial loan, leaving the debtor paying a mortgage without a house. This was seen across the country during the troika years, and the Left Bloc seems to be trying to avoid a repeat.
Tax Breaks to Tackle Rising Rents
In an attempt to increase the number of long-term lets, a series of tax breaks for landlords has been introduced. The income tax on property revenue, currently 28% for two-year contracts, will be reduced to 26%. Furthermore, for a five-year contract, this will drop to 23%, for a 10-year contract, 14%, and for a 20-year contract, 10%. Additionally, there will be tax incentives for construction projects that guarantee houses with affordable rent for 25 years.
Asking the Big Questions
We rely on academics to answer the pressing questions of our time: Why are we here? Is the God Particle responsible for life as we know it? Are we secretly controlled by dark matter? Well, a group of professors in Porto came together in a consultancy firm to create an algorithm to answer something that we’ve all been wondering: Which countries are going to legalize cannabis? The algorithm uses artificial intelligence to process millions of data points across 98 variables, including the religious, political, and economic context of a country. The accuracy of the results has been promising, and while right now it is running pot predictions, it is expected to be used to predict other policy decisions in the future.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!