Over 20 Portuguese “celebrities” have banded together in a bid to force the government to categorically scrap ruinous motorway tolls, already branded illegal by the European Union.
The effort, says coordinator Paulo Morais, could tip the balance that dedicated civic groups throughout the country – and particularly in the Algarve – have so far failed to achieve.
Stresses Morais (already famous for his anti-corruption campaigning), if the tolls brought in during the austerity years were scrapped, the State would actually SAVE €11 billion.
This is the frustration behind all efforts that have been mounted since the tolls began.
The PPP agreements (standing for “public private partnerships”) have never been anything of the sort. They would have been better dubbed ‘state-funding of private cash bonanzas’.
The 21 public figures that have so far signed their names to a diploma aimed at being presented in parliament claim the State will actually have shelled out €18 billion by the end of all the contracts – and that’s (of course) not counting the money paid by drivers.
That most of these highways were ‘ex-SCUT’ (meaning roads formerly designed to benefit ‘community development’, paid for with EC funds and never intended to be tolled) makes the reality even more galling.
But according to “Frente Civica” without the “ruinous business” of PPPs, Portugal “could construct 33 hospitals and 2,000 schools”.
The ‘saving’ has been quantified as “€1,000 for every Portuguese” resident in the country.
This has been a gargantuan fight since 2012, but Morais thinks this latest “manifesto of support” signed by musicians, conductors, actors, doctors, historians, military ‘legends’ from the days of the Revolution, lawyers, a former police chief and even two Portuguese Euro MPs.
has a chance of getting discussed in parliament alongside debates on the 2019 State Budget.
The beauty of the initiative is that it is open to every Portuguese citizen to sign up to. The aim is 20,000 signatures, to be amassed by the end of next month.
The ‘private road concessionaries’ in Frente Cívica’s sights are Brisa, Scutvias, Norscut, Ascendi, Condeixa and AAVI. In some cases, the so-called ruinous contracts run until 2040.
Eight years ago, the European Commission dubbed the decision by the PSD government of the time to implement tolls on previously free highways as “illegal”.
The Resident’s story of the time said: “The Portuguese State may have to face the European Court of Justice if it does not provide a well-grounded justification for the implementation of tolls on former SCUT roads”.
But since then, the issue has simply been fumbled, with even this government refusing to budge on scrapping contracts that cost the State at least €1.5 billion per year.
Source:- Portugal Resident