Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates says it would be a grave error to withdraw the economic stimulus packages in place to help steady the economy following the financial crisis.
The Socialist prime minister has been outlining his government’s economic programme as he begins a second term following his election victory at the end of September. “Let’s move on priority areas: the TGV between Lisbon and Madrid and Lisbon Porto-Figo. We need to launch the new airport south of Lisbon and get on with the National Road plan,” he said. Socrates added that it is the “state’s duty” to assist with unemployment in Portugal running at a 30-year high. Opposition leader Manuela Ferreira Leite is concerned that the country’s debt burden is already “unsustainable.” Speaking in parliament she said: “We are looking at the government program with the same suspicion we looked at their manifesto, because it was designed to win votes and not be implemented.” Portugal earmarked 2.2 billion euros at the end of last year to help weather the financial storm. The government lost its overall majority in the recent election, meaning it will have to negotiate the passage of bills and reforms with the opposition.