Really struggling with interesting local news. It’s that time of year when nothing seems to be happening. At least the locals are slowly returning from the August holiday and beginning to return to work. I must say it never ceases to confound me that a European nation on the brink of financial meltdown can apparently continue to close up for a complete month and most of the population disappear, despite the “Troika” bail-out conditions and austerity measures!
With all the talk of Greece pleading to extend it’s pay-back period and Spain struggling desperately , people tend to overlook Portugal having not been far behind Greece (and Ireland) in seeking assistance – but staying out of the headlines since (possibly because the country is simply not big enough to matter rather than “too big to fail” as Spain and Italy are being described).
There were reports yesterday that the largest Spanish region had made a request for assistance from Madrid. Catalonia (which has an economy similar in size to Portugal) has asked for €5 billion in aid, but will accept no further austerity measures. The region’s difficult history with the central government notwithstanding, it does put Prime Minister Rajoy in an awkward position, since to allow one region to get away without additional requirements would set a dangerous precedent and also bring the ire of Frankfurt and Berlin down upon his head. This was followed by reports that Valencia will also need at least €3.5bn from Spain’s emergency liquidity pot to cover spending this year, according to a government official.The region needs more to settle unpaid bills from previous years, an official told Bloomberg. The local government plans to negotiate the exact amount with the Budget Ministry in Madrid over the next ten days, they added
However, whilst the eyes of the world are elsewhere, the direct implications of the bail-out conditions and austerity measures are still being felt nationally and locally:
Portugal faces 5th “Troika” assessment
In his last public speech last Sunday, the secretary general of the PS (Socialist Party), António José Seguro, challenged the prime minister to disclose what steps they will take to meet the deficit target of 4.5 per cent in 2012 and explain what has failed.
A shift in tax revenues has led the government to admit that it cannot meet the budgetary target set for this year (4.5 per cent of GDP). The ‘troika’ will discuss with the Government during the fifth assessment different solutions to the problem: increasing the deficit target or implementing additional measures (however the ‘troika’ rejects recourse to extraordinary income).
This review process is quarterly and is included in the program of economic and financial assistance, through which the ‘troika’ made available 78 billion euros to Portugal. In all four previous revisions, the team of ‘troika’ expressed satisfaction with the progress made by Portugal in implementing the program.
Interestingly the word Troika apparently comes from the Russian word тройка meaning three of a kind, a collection of three, or simply the number three according to Wikipedia. Strange how it has come to be used for the tripartite committee led by the European Commission with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which organised loans to the governments of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
If Portugal is on its fifth audit how much bail-out money has gone to international firms of accountants – they must be laughing all the way to the bank! Don’t get me going about banks again………………………
600 Madeiran benefit recipients to take up “Socially Useful Activity” from October 1st
The Chairman of the Board of the CSSM (Social Security Centre of Madeira) states that the measure approved last week by the Council of Ministers is positive since "brings discipline and makes the beneficiaries gain work habits." Failure to comply with this ‘requirement’ then no longer have that right social benefit.
Last Thursday that the Council of Ministers approved the statute which provides that beneficiaries of RSI (Social Insertion Income) can be forced to perform a socially useful activity (social work) up to 15 hours per week, no more than six hours a day (three days per week). Will only be covered by the measure active citizens capable to work and without elderly or children in their care.
The work done by the beneficiaries must be compatible with the skills, qualifications and professional experience of the beneficiaries, not jeopardizing the job search or frequency of training school (compulsory education) or business.
The Chairman of the Board of the CSSM said there were 171 families in the Region who who still had some income and no longer receive the RSI due to recent legislative changes to the regulations for granting the benefit. More data from the CSSM shows that there are a total of 2,068 families in Madeira and Porto Santo receiving this social benefit. In many of these instances, adds the official, there is what is termed “generational poverty”.
Sâo Roque fair 2nd September
The third Feira Local de Sâo Roque will take place on September 2 at the Miradouro of the parish, with the participation of more than two dozen merchants.
It is a joint organization of the Parish of San Roque in partnership with the Municipality of Funchal and will be an opportunity for the vendors, who will be able to market the products; “cooking, craft, agricultural and miscellaneous other”, while creating a source of revenue and employment in the locality.
Sa assets for sale?
Update 1.9.12. Going back to the “hard times” reported above, the Diario reports today that one of the oldest Madeiran companies – and one employing hundreds of workers -has placed most of its assets for sale. The crisis affecting the Group Sa “is sudden” and obliges it to sell or lease its real estate. “The aim of the directors is to sell everything that is possible” the newspaper quotes.
This will not be a surprise to a lot of the blog readers who have been posting comments for months about empty shelves, unpaid bills………..