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Court of Enquiry – The Debate Rages On!

Sérgio Marques told the deputies of the Commission of Enquiry that throughout the “invented works” in Madeira he “never felt any pressure” from the President of the Regional Government, from any member of the Government or from businessmen, namely Luís Miguel de Sousa and Avelino Farinha, to change the course of his policies.

Answering questions presented by the deputies of the Commission, starting by providing clarifications to Ricardo Lume, deputy of the PCP, who through the potestative vote brought Sérgio Marques to the Commission “after four” failed attempts, due to stalling tactics by the PSD / CDS.

When asked why he left the government, Sérgio Marques explained that he left the Regional Government in 2017 because the President of the Regional Government had announced to him changes within the structure and that he was creating a vice-presidency role which would be handed over to Pedro Calado.

“I, as a matter of personal dignity, made my place available in the Government and left,” he said, recalling that he went to occupy what was left of the mandate of deputy in the Legislative Assembly of Madeira.

During the session, Sérgio Marques explained that the words “invented works” were used in a “metaphorical” way and that, it simply meant that these works were not “priorities.”

The clarification of the former ruler follows a question from Mr Brício Araújo, of the PSD, who wanted to know if he kept the statements he had made to RTP-Madeira, days after his controversial statements to DN-Lisbon. Despite having softened on RTP what he had said to DN-Lisboa, the former ruler confessed that the day of the interview with RTP had not even been ‘a good day” since, as he’d undergone a colonoscopy and an endoscopy under general anesthetic that morning.”

Moreover, Sérgio Marques insisted that the use of the expression “invented works” was “metaphorical”and that it had “nothing against economic groups.”

Marques also responded to the accusation of businessman Avelino Farinha that he “did not like works.” “I might not understand much about works,” but “I loved works,” he replied. However, there was the “objective interest” of the businessman Avelino Farinha to remove him from the public works office and insisted that his goal was to “give equality to all”, not favouring or harming any construction entrepreneur.

Although he may have softened his stance on ‘invented works, Sérgio Marques was less complimentary about the situation regarding Madeira’s ports, saying that they were ‘anomalous’ and asked why the regulatory authorities have not intervened.

Ports are, so far, the hottest subject in the ongoing inquiry in the Legislative Assembly of Madeira.

The subject was brought up following the accusation made by Sérgio Gonçalves, president of PS-Madeira, about the statements to DN-Lisboa about the attempts of interference of businessmen in the reshuffle of the Regional Government in 2017.

In response to the PS, Sérgio Marques began by mentioning that, despite having made affirmative statements, what he said were “opinions.”

“The affirmative tone does not make opinions a fact,” he said, insisting that they were his “perception” and his “impression.”

Then he said that it was not Eduardo Jesus who “had wanted to reform the ports,” but rather the Government and that Jesus would have the “mission to implement it.”

Marques also considered that the “market of port operations (in Madeira) does not generate competition,” which creates “an anomalous reality.” In fact, the current model “generates a monopoly,” and this “is a fact!” “I think Dr. Luís Miguel de Sousa doesn’t have the capacity to change concepts,” he said.

He lamented that “for 30 years’ there has been no competition” in the ports and that to this day “no government has had the capacity to change the situation.”

On the future of port operations, he advocated that a public tender be launched, with sufficient validity only to pay for the investments made, which can last six or eight years. “You don’t need a 30-year concession,” he said.

Finally, he complained about the intervention of the regulatory body of the sector. “Why hasn’t the regulator intervened yet in ports?” – He questioned, insistently. “There are after all two!” He then turned on Luís Miguel de Sousa.

Sérgio Marques considers that the Sousa Group, chaired by businessman Luís Miguel de Sousa, accused of being involved in the removal of Eduardo Jesus from the tutelage of the ports in 2017, “has reached a level of power that is already excessive.” And reversing the situation today “is difficult” and “it worries me. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that the port of Funchal is using best practices or are competitively priced.

“If there is no competition, we have to find ways to secure the service, in terms that guarantee value for money market prices.”

Sérgio Marques also challenged, more than once, Sérgio Gonçalves to present alternative proposals for the ports, considering that the absence of these proposals removes the “credibility” of those who want to run for President of the Government.

Finally, and changing the topic he targeted newspapers DN-Madeira and Journal.  Presenting previously published copies of Diário de Notícias do Funchal, he said that he doubted if their headlines regarding the Sousa and AFA groups would be allowed today. He further alluded to the fact that the Sousa Group owns 77% of DN-Madeira, and that JM was sold for a pittance.

Samantha Gannon

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