Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Austerity in Portugal

An Unprecedented Aggression against the People and the Nation
Written by Portuguese Communist Party

Exposing the lie behind the PS-PSD-CDS operation, the measures proposed constitute the greatest aggression against the people's rights and the nation's interests since fascist times.

It is an illegitimate program of foreign intervention, set up so as to favour domestic and foreign economic and financial corporations. It extends and goes deeper than the rejected PEC IV [Stability and Growth Program nr 4, previously rejected by parliament and thus prompting the upcoming general election]. It is an unprecedented attack against our sovereignty and independence, made possible only by the surrender of national interests now being undertaken by the PS, PSD and CDS [parties]. If it were to materialize, this intervention would contribute to worsen the economic recession, and to create more unemployment and poverty – as a result of less public investment, lower salaries and pensions, and the onslaught against small businesses – as well as to heighten foreign dependence. This is an intervention and an interference that the Portuguese people cannot accept. If it were to be applied, it would worsen all the nation's problems, including the conditions to be able to pay off the foreign debt.
Here is a summary of some of the many measures envisaged.

Heightened exploitation
-Sacking workers is to be made easier and cheaper, by reducing the compensation paid by bosses from 30 days to 10 days' worth of salary per year worked, and expanding the scope of "just cause" for dismissal;
-The unemployment benefit's maximum duration is to be reduced to 18 months, and its amount reduced to 2.5 IAS, while its value is systematically reduced after 6 months;
-Working hours are to be made more flexible, through a "pool of hours" and a reduction in the amount paid for overtime;
-Collective bargaining and the role of trade unions in negotiations are attacked.

Attacks against workers' and pensioners' incomes
-Freeze on the national minimum wage, and an overall devaluation of salaries through changes in labour legislation and unemploymnt benefits;
-A drop in the real value of pensions to go on for three years – including the minimum pension – as well as cuts in over-1500 euro pensions;
-VAT rises, particularly in the rates applied on essential supplies and services, as well rises in as other indirect taxes;
-IRS [individual income tax] rises through the reduction/abolition of certain exemptions (health, education and housing), including higher taxation on pensions and the introduction of taxation on social support income;
-Elimination of IMI [municipal real-estate tax] exemptions in the first years following a home purchase, together with increases in the reference values used for calculations and in the rates charged;
-Raises in electricity and gas prices, through liberalization and VAT increase;
-Higher rents and easier evictions;
-Further cuts in social services spending;
-A major raise in additional fees for health services and lower percentages of cover for pharmaceutical prices;

Attacks against working people and against the State's role
-Significant cuts in health, education, justice, and local and regional governments;
-Closing down and concentration of services (hospitals, health centers, schools, courts, finance offices and other central and regional government services);
-A three-year freeze on civil service workers' salaries; tens of thousands of jobs cut in public services;
-Elimination of a significant number of municipalities and wards, thus leaving vast areas and many people further from essential services;


-Privatizations – stepped-up pace in the handover of State companies and state holdings to private capital;
-Privatization of state holdings in EDP, REN, and TAP [electricity company, rail infrastructure and airline] by the end of 2011;
-Surrender of the State's special rights ("golden share") in strategic companies such as PT [telecommunications];
-Privatization of Caixa Geral de Depositos's [large mostly-State bank] insurance branch (that accounts for over 30% of the group's financial activities) as well as of other sections, particularly those operating abroad;
-Extending the privatization process to municipality-and region-owned companies;
-Offensive against the public passenger and goods transportation sector, specifically with the privatization of ANA [airports], CP Freight [railways], suburban rail lines, sea ports, etc;
-Large-scale sale of public property;
-Transfer (by closing them down, or allowing for their dilapidation) of public services to the private sector, and of major sectors hitherto guaranteed by the State;

More support for banks and corporations

-Banks and corporations are not penalized by any measure whatsoever;
-Transfer of 12,000,000,000 euros to banks, in addition to State guarantees worth 35,000,000,000 euros.
-The State to fully and definitively bear the losses due to the BPN's [bankrupt private bank, recently "nationalized"] fraudulent management, [re-]privatizing it by July 2011 at no minimum price and free of any burden whatsoever for the buyer;

4 May 2011

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