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A Tough Time Ahead

The Representative of the Republic, Ireneu Barreto, and the President of the Legislative Assembly of Madeira, José Manuel Rodrigues, met today to discuss the economic fallout and social crisis resulting from the pandemic.  At the end of the meeting held at the São Lourenço Palace, both agreed that the region will experience a challenging time in the weeks and months to come.

Ireneu Barreto said that “the situation is serious, and we all have to be responsible and remain vigilant, so that the regions situation does not worsen. Of course, our most significant concern is the health of the population.  He went on to say that on social issues, and to minimise the situation, we have to be united, supportive, and all parties need to be in the same boat and rowing in the same direction.  In this way, we can ensure there are no extreme situations of poverty, social isolation and discrimination within the region.”

Concerning social issues, Ireneu Barreto also said that he is concerned as to the general population’s compliance with the new inter-municipality restrictions under the continued State of Emergency over the Easter period. “We cannot let our guard down,” he said, and we request that all security forces act “as strict as possible over the Easter period.”

The President of the Legislative Assembly of Madeira thanked Ireneu Barreto for the way he has implemented the national State of Emergency in the region, extolling his “spirit of cooperation” with the Regional Government of Madeira. However, the situation in the region is already serious from an economic and social point of view. The aftereffects of Covid-19 are likely to be bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty.  We need to be prepared for this situation and enumerate the measures necessary to help the region face the future.

“Just as the European Union has made the Stability and Growth Pact more flexible for member countries making it possible for them to exceed debt limits and issues related to the 3% deficit,” José Manuel Rodrigues believes the State, “Must act in partnership with Madeira and take measures, in particular relieving what is defined in the Financial Adjustment Plan, which was in force until 2015, but which was reflected in the law of finance in the autonomous regions.”

Now that the Region’s Budget has much more expenditure and much less revenue, the President of the Regional Assembly suggested that whoever decreed the State of Emergency should pay for some of the resulting social and economic consequences.

Furthermore, he believes that it is “the duty of the State” to make a moratorium/ postponement of the amortisation of capital and interest on the region’s loan.

“In the next six months, two tranches worth 97 million euros will be granted, which will be essential to assist the economic and social measures that have to be taken.  It is necessary to “suspend the debt limits registered in the Finance Law of the autonomous regions, ” enforcing the 8th article of that same law, that is,” the State will be in solidarity with its autonomous regions, restoring economic and social activity.

Apart from these measures, José Manuel Rodrigues suggested restructuring what remains of the community funds between 2014 and 2020, allocating funds from other areas to the economic and social sectors.

The President ended by saying that the State must be more sympathetic to Madeira since it is still experiencing the consequences of the financial and social crisis of 2015.

Samantha Gannon

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