Por­tu­gal’s new premier com­mits to debt re­duc­tion

Kathimerini English - - Business & Finance -

LIS­BON (AFP) – Por­tu­gal’s in­com­ing prime min­is­ter moved fast yes­ter­day to re­as­sure the mar­kets of his com­mit­ment to tame the na­tional debt, stand­ing by a cam­paign pledge to go be­yond the de­mands of a 78bil­lion-euro res­cue pack­age from the Euro­pean Union and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund. Pe­dro Pas­sos Coelho, leader of the cen­ter-right So­cial Democrats (PSD) which de­feated the So­cial­ists in a gen­eral elec­tion on Sun­day, also said his gov­ern­ment would lower la­bor costs for ex­ports as a way to re­vive the econ­omy. “We must be more am­bi­tious in terms of pri­va­ti­za­tions, in pub­lic me­dia for ex­am­ple,” he said in an in­ter­view with French busi­ness daily Les Echos. The PSD backs the pri­va­ti­za­tion of one of state broad­caster RTP’s two tele­vi­sion sta­tions as well as the state wa­ter com­pany and the Lis­bon metro. Par­tially pri­va­tiz­ing sav­ings bank Caixa Geral de De­pos­i­tos is also part of Pas­sos Coelho’s vi­sion as out­lined in a book pub­lished in 2010 called “Change,” as a way to re­duce the role of the state in the Por­tuguese econ­omy. Por­tu­gal be­came the third eu­ro­zone coun­try af­ter Greece and Ire­land to seek a bailout af­ter out­go­ing Prime Min­is­ter Jose Socrates re­signed in March when par­lia­ment re­jected his mi­nor­ity So­cial­ist gov­ern­ment’s lat­est aus­ter­ity mea­sures, send­ing Lis­bon’s al­ready high bor­row­ing costs sharply higher. Last month, Greece was forced to agree to pri­va­tize more na­tional as­sets in or­der to reach the bud­get tar­gets set out in the bailout pro­gram it reached last year with the EU and the IMF. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Pas­sos Coelho warned that Por­tu­gal risked fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple of So­cial­ist-run Greece, which now needs even more money a year af­ter it got its bailout, if Socrates re­mained in power.

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