Marcelo warns that it is not possible to abdicate “in any case” the balance of public accounts

The President of the Republic warned this Monday that the country cannot give up “under any circumstances” the priority given to the balance of public accounts, arguing that in a “critical situation” such as the current one, it is necessary to maintain “certainty in the principles”.

TIAGO PETINGA/The day after tomorrow

In an intervention at the closing session of the conference “Ten years of the Public Finance Council”, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa admitted that the country, Europe and the world are going through “a very complex phase”, with the war in Ukraine and rising inflation. “But it is in these unpredictable situations that it is essential not to stray from the principles: certainty in the principles, lucidity in the analysis, acumen in the decision will help to face this critical situation”, he pointed out.

The head of state admitted that the evolution of the inflation rate and the rise in interest rates represent “a major challenge for the entire Portuguese society”, which requires “very careful attention in the conduct of economic policy”.

“The need to maintain sound public finances is a priority that we cannot abdicate under any circumstances. The balance of public accounts, which took so long to become a reality adopted by Portuguese society, must remain firm in the collective will” , defended.

At the same level, he placed the need to contain and reduce the public debt, reinforced by the “uncertainty of the times”.

“The important thing is to maintain the credibility we gained in national and international institutions with our exit from the excessive deficit, with our control of public finances – which many feared could collapse in 2016, then in 2019 and later in the pandemic – and never superimpose considerations, legitimate as they may seem, of electoral disputes, particularistic or personal, over the national interest”, he defended.

In his speech, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa highlighted that, in the last ten years, “the public accounts evaluated by the budgetary results recorded significant improvements” and “have become an uncontested concern and converted into a very clear national priority”.

“In a flash, Portugal and the Portuguese changed their paradigm, they all started – and not just one of the hemispheres of Portuguese political life – to understand the indispensability of correct accounts, of controlling the budget deficit, of the urgency to reduce the debt” , he stressed.

Therefore, he argued, this budgetary discipline must be “maintained and strengthened by improving the framework of the budget process, in order to better inform and raise the quality of the budgetary discussion”.

“It is, more than ever, desirable that the evaluation of results is done more for the benefits that public policies have in the population’s quality of life than in the expenditure carried out in such policies”, he defended.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa insisted on distributing “the laurels” for the balance of public finances to have become a national priority.

“Those who saw it first in the 1980s and 1990s; those who, already in this century, faced with a very acute crisis, did everything they could to overcome a very heavy legacy and, finally, those who were doubtful that they could drop the legacy in recent years and they didn’t,” he said.

“All in different plans and with different intensity have indisputable merit (…) In different ways and which are not equal, all in their own way have served, serve and will have to serve Portugal”, he stressed.

Regarding the Public Finance Council, the President of the Republic praised its independence, stressing that “it does not have to please the political, economic and social sectors”.

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