Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Hotels and Housing, Debt and Millionaires, Shots, Shots, Shots, and much more!
Hotels on the Horizon
The number of hotels in Lisbon is set to almost double after Turismo de Portugal approved 208 new tourism projects, the majority of which will be hotels in the capital. It’s the same story in Porto, with 93 approved projects to be added to the city’s 96 existing hotels. Current revenue from tourism supposedly justifies these investments despite the fear that they will be left in the lurch once Portugal’s boom comes to an end. While these projects have been approved by Turismo de Portugal, many are still awaiting permission from the Lisbon City Council.
It’s AL Good for Lisbon City Council
Speaking of tourist accommodation, the former official residence of the Mayor of Lisbon is now an alojamento local! MCO II holds the lease on the property for €2,600 a month plus VAT, on top of the €4 million they had to invest in renovations. If you’re looking to rent it, you could well rack up a bill of more than €1200 a night for the four-bedroom villa, which has been available since August. Bloco de Esquerda has announced that it will question the council on the decision.
Resignation Over Renting
Helena Roseta, an independent MP for the Socialist Party, resigned from the parliamentary working group on housing to protest the postponement of votes on what she considers to be a very urgent issue — defending “the right to housing and the regulation of the rental market.” She vocalized what many people are talking about on the street when she said “Renting in Lisbon is in collapse,” and vowed to keep fighting for Article 65 of the Constitution of the Republic, which says that the State has the responsibility to guarantee the right to housing.
A study by Lisbon City Council has found that the number of residents in the capital’s center has dropped by 15% in the past five years. This is due to the high number of tourist-lets, with the study using electoral data to determine permanent residents. This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to the historic neighborhoods, with drops apparent across the city, but with 45% of housing given over to alojamento local in the parishes of Santa Maria Maior and Misericórida, the problem here is much more acute. Additionally, two-thirds of property deed holders rent out at least two properties to “overseas visitors and residents,” according to the study.
The Working Poor
The European Anti-Poverty Network has said that more than 1.1 million employed Portuguese — roughly 10% of the population — are “poor.” In other words, their income is not enough to meet the needs of the household. In 2017, 23.3% of people in Portugal were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, which, while better than 2008 figures, is nearly a percentage point above the EU average. A job is no longer enough to pull a person from poverty.
Fewer Millionaires Than Before?
The number of millionaires in Portugal dropped by about 5,000 between 2017 and 2018. An initial incorrect value saw an increase, but revised data has shown that the number of people with assets of more than a million dollars fell from 99,000 to 94,000. In the same period, the average wealth per adult rose by 7.4% but still remains lower than the European average. Additionally, nearly 20% of the population has wealth valued at less than $10,000, but there are 13 people in Portugal with assets of more than 500 million dollars each. Now, reread the story above and let that sink in.
Shots, Shots, Shots! Portugal Believes in Vaccines
As reports come in of measles outbreaks across Europe, Portugal shines as having the most trust in vaccines in the EU. A study promoted by the European Commission found that 95% of Portuguese say vaccines are safe, 96.6% say they are effective, and 98% consider them important to the health of children.
Eurostat has announced that Portugal has the worst budget deficit of 22 EU member states studied, -2.7% of GDP. Additionally, Portugal’s public debt is the third largest in the EU, standing at 124.9% of GDP. In good news, the EU collective budget deficit dropped to the lowest it has been in since 2002. This announcement does come at a time, however, when other financial bodies predict a drop in Portugal’s overall debt and investment ratings have gone up.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!