Portugal prepares for new round of austerity measures
Things to only tighten in one of Europe's poorest nations
Portugal, one of the poorest nations in the European Union is set for unrest with the announcement of its 2013 budget. Austerity measures are expected to be among the most stringent following Lisbon's 78 billion euro bailout. The presentation is expected to draw hordes of anti-government protesters. Police expect a big protest outside the parliament as many Portuguese demonstrate that their stoic acceptance of austerity, once much admired, has turned to anger.
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho will announce the new budget, expected to be filled with still more steep tax increases and public sector job cuts .
Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho will announce the new budget, expected to be filled with still more steep tax increases and public sector job cuts . Coelho abruptly faces the kind of popular backlash that was, until recently, been very much absent from the political and social landscape in Portugal.
Taking a page from the playbook of their Spanish neighbors, protesters are planning to encircle the Parliament building for the budget announcement. For their part, Portugal's powerful trade unions are preparing a general strike for Nov. 14. Arménio Carlos, the leader of the CGTP union, compared Mr. Passos Coelho to Pinocchio, accusing him of constantly changing his austerity message.
"It's clear that the amount of good faith the government enjoyed has been turned into large skepticism and distrust," said Pedro C. Magalhães, a professor of politics at the University of Lisbon.
Portugal's Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar has described the planned tax increases as "enormous" and can amount to nearly two to three months' wages for middle income workers.
Economists fear the extreme measures could push Portugal into a recessive spiral like Greece. This would further undermine Europe's German-inspired austerity drive for the euro's highly-indebted countries.
Portugal had shown a relatively high level of political consensus and has been supportive toward cutting costs for the bailout it sought in 2011.
Support has been dwindling since September. The main opposition Socialists is now pledging to vote against the budget when it is put to parliament at the end of the month.
Portugal's economy is expected to contract by at least three percent this year and the government expects a contraction of one percent in 2013.
Unemployment is already at record highs, with joblessness now above 15 percent. The government expects it to rise to 16.4 per cent next year.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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