Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Strike!, Train Line Expansions, Tax Rebates and Repeals, Petrol Prices, the Good People Are Gone, Some Really Old Trees, and much more!
Strike Set to Disrupt Trains
The unions of the Infraestruturas de Portugal have called a strike for Friday in relation to salary increases, working time, rest time, and regulation of careers. It was expected to seriously impact trains in the city, with Comboios de Portugal offering to reimburse any affected tickets for that day. The strike has apparently been called off — but you have been warned!
Sorry, the Dog Ate My Report
While trains inside the city could be grinding to a halt, trains outside have caught the attention of the European Commission. The Directorate-General for Urban and Regional Policies carried out a study with consultancy firm KWC into border transport. They found that the Douro train line was a “missing link” in border transport and one that could be revived. They sent a report to the Portuguese government with potential passenger demands, investment needs, carriage suppliers, and the possibility of EU funding. What did the government do? Nothing. In fact, they claim that they never even saw the report. Amazingly, Portugal actually carried out their own study before that and found the line to be a viable project, which they could have just sent to the European Commision. The project is estimated to cost €163 million — maybe we’ll see a faster Spanish-Portuguese connection in the near future that doesn’t require Lisboetas to go to San Sebastian first…
Growth Will Slow Down, Says IMF
The IMF has revised Portugal’s estimated growth down to 2.3% this year and 1.8% next year. This represents a drop of 0.1% from the IMF’s prediction in April but is in line with the government estimates for this year. However, IMF’s figure for 2019 falls far short of Portugal’s, which predicts a more protracted slowdown. On the other hand, the IMF predicts a larger fall in the unemployment rate than the government has, speculating that it will drop to 6.7% next year. Finally, the IMF has stated that they believe Portugal’s debt can fall to 103% of GDP by 2023, down from 125.7% in 2017.
The Year of Receipt Rebates
Those working on the electronic self-employment system in Portugal known as Green Receipts (Recibos Verdes) will benefit from greater tax rebates in 2019. If a freelancer reports up to €9,000 in a year, they will not pay tax, which will affect an estimated 57,000 green receipt users.
Tauromáquicos to Taste the Tax
On the flip side, People Animals Nature, after four years of campaigning, have seemingly won the case against tax-exempt bullfighters. As part of the 2019 state budget, bullfighters will no longer be free from VAT, and while this could be seen as part of a broader campaign by PAN to ban the practice, others say it is about tax justice. Even fans of bullfighting, according to the deputy of PAN André Silva, have come out against the tax breaks.
Petrol Prices Highest in Five Years
For those who drive, I have some bad news. The cost of gasoline and diesel will once again go up, by two and three cents respectively. This will see them at their highest since March 2013, and it’s linked to the recent hikes on the international market. Another mark for public transport, people!
Ronaldo Not Charged With any Crime
In international news, the Las Vegas police have announced that Ronaldo has not been charged with a crime. Although there is a chance that he will be questioned, this will not be as the “accused,” according to the police. Additionally, the defense against the confidentiality agreement is that it was drawn up by Real Madrid, where Ronaldo was playing at the time, and is therefore not an admission of guilt.
Higher Rents for Higher Education
Uniplaces has revealed that Lisbon had more “nights booked for student accommodation” in the first half of the year than any of the other 36 European countries they operate in. This represents an increase of 24% compared with last year. Furthermore, Uniplaces revealed that the average student rent was €451. Yes, €451. This is why academic associations have said that student housing in Lisbon is “becoming almost unsustainable.”
Suicide Hotline Forced Out of Lisbon by Rising Rents
It isn’t only the students who are being affected by rising rents, however, with SOS Voz Amiga saying that they will no longer be able to afford the city. The helpline, which has been working to prevent suicide and supported those suffering loneliness, anxiety, and depression since 1978, will have to leave its current location by the end of the year. They have been squeezed out of their buildings by skyrocketing rents and now can’t find anywhere to receive the more than 4,000 annual calls placed to it.
Portugal Has Really Old Olive Trees
A study by the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro has found that there are about 200 olive trees in Portugal that are more than 2000 years old. In fact, the oldest they have found is about 3350 years old. The study used traits of the trunk, such as its radius, diameter, and height, to determine the trees’ ages. Publico has done a “Top Three Trees” article, which is heartwarming compared to some of the “Top Ten” lists currently out there. Go look at some old trees and forget the news.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!