Statement by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, Press conference

On the meeting of the Central Committee of the PCP on October 24, 2021

On the meeting of the Central Committee of the PCP on October 24, 2021

The country's situation and the problems it faces as a result of decades of right-wing policies and which the epidemic has worsened, demand a response and a solution that cannot be postponed. The essential question that is placed is to open perspectives for their overcoming.

This is where the energies and priorities of national policy must be focused. It is with this objective that the PCP has intervened.

Always with the same coherence and decisive action, always on the side of the interests of the workers and the people. In 2015 to halt a course of disaster and pave the way for the defence, restoration and achievement of rights. In 2021, in the face of the epidemic, to respond to it by protecting wages, ensuring social support, and reinforcing the NHS’s response. Today, with the epidemic over, when the scale of the accumulated problems becomes clearer and when the means are available to respond to them, demanding that they be solved.

It is not understandable that, it being possible to give this response, it should be postponed, subordinating it to criteria and options that make the interests of the workers and the people and the country's development secondary.

It is necessary, in the State Budget and in other options of government action, to assume commitments and to give clear signs that point out a path to the solution of national problems and to improve the living conditions of the people.

These are the commitments and signs that the government and the PS have refused to give.

Respond to problems, point out a perspective of future for present and new generations, create conditions for a better life, this is the goal that reflects the PCP's commitment to the workers, the people and the country.

A goal that asserts itself as an alternative to the class options of the PS and to the reactionary projects of the PSD, CDS and their surrogates.

When a global response is required, neither the State Budget for 2022, nor other and decisive options beyond it, show signs by the government that could be inserted in it.

The decisive assessment is not just about what is in the State Budget proposal. It is also about what is not there, and what the government considers or refuses beyond it, assuming an option that will translate into the progressive deterioration of wages, rights, public services, productive capacity.

The country needs clear signs regarding options and commitments that reveal a perspective of response and solutions to national problems, to be able to:

- Ensure economic development and general wage increases as a national emergency;
There is no future for a country based on low wages. The valorisation of wages is inseparable from the abolishment of the grievous norms of labour legislation; repealing the expiry of collective bargaining agreements instead of maintaining it; the increase in the National Minimum Wage to 850 euros; the restoration of the purchasing power of Public Administration workers instead of postponing it; the valorisation of careers and professions.

- Ensure the rights of children and parents, promote birth rates, reverse the demographic decline;

There is no future without guaranteeing stability in employment, in housing, in conditions to facilitate the decision to have children. Which requires free nurseries for all children in 2022; the construction of a public network of nurseries that the government continues to refuse; the guarantee of job stability and regulated working hours; the restoration of the universalisation of family allowances as a child's right.

- Valorise pensions, fight poverty among the elderly;

To do justice to those who built this country with a lifetime of work is also part of that future. Extra increase in pensions, ensuring the restoration of purchasing power, including of those that were frozen over the past few years due to the resistance of the PS; eliminate the persistent cuts in the value of pensions of long contributory careers; the construction of a public network of nursing homes; full pension with 40 or more years of social security payments.

- Defend and strengthen the National Health Service as a guarantee of the Portuguese people to healthcare;

A goal that calls for the valorisation of careers, pay and incentives to healthcare professionals, which contributes to their fixation and exclusive dedication to the NHS, essential for more medical appointments, tests, surgeries, family doctor and nurse for all. An opposite option to that of the government that favours the businesses of healthcare groups, in fact putting the future of the NHS at risk.

- Valorise public services to respond to the needs of populations and for territorial cohesion;

Alongside the investment in facilities, it is necessary to fix and valorise professionals, among other sectors, in education, justice, Social Security, Security Forces and Services and strengthen intervention in areas such as culture, science or sports, among others. . The country cannot see its public services being closed or weakened.

- Ensure the right to decent housing, transport and mobility;

It is urgent to intervene to provide stability and bring down the price of rents, which the government refuses, along with the promotion of public housing to meet the needs. A progressive free public transport and the effective expansion of the offer to the whole country must be ensured.

- Ensure more fiscal justice, providing the country with the means to respond to what the country needs;

It is necessary to ease taxation on lower and intermediate incomes in the Income Tax (IRS), as well as indirect taxes – of which the 23% VAT on electricity is an example -, and face, in fact, the tax privileges of big capital, instead of expanding them, as the government intends.

- Stimulate economic activity, enhancing national production and supporting micro, small and medium-sized companies;

The country needs to recover sectors such as banking, postal services, energy, transport or telecommunications, instead of watching the flight of many millions of euros abroad every year, including to tax havens. It is necessary to valorise national production, fisheries, agriculture, industry, instead of an increasing external dependence and indebtedness.

The question that arises is whether there is a will and availability for this more global and decisive response that cannot be postponed, regardless of this or that incidental measure. And there is no answer to this from the government.

Portugal does not need just any Budget, it needs a response to the existing problems that keep growing because they are not addressed. There are conditions and means to answer them. In this context, given the framework of commitments and signs given, the PCP will vote against this State Budget.

The PCP will not give up fighting in all circumstances for the defence and achievement of rights and for a response to the country's problems.

With the workers and the people, in convergence with the intervention of democrats and patriots, the PCP will affirm the construction of a path and an alternative policy capable of responding to what is needed.

With the strength and justice of the proposals for which it fights and with what they mean as a condition for development, the elevation of living conditions and for the materialisation of rights.

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