Approved 2018 State Budget “unfair to the Algarve”
The State Budget for 2018 has been approved as the left wing alliance pushed through key proposals, despite opposition.
The Social Democratic party in the Algarve pointed out that this budget “is a great disappointment and a tremendous injustice” for the region as public investment nationally is to be boosted by 40%, with the Algarve region receiving an increase of just 1% on 2017.
The Central Hospital of Algarve plan is on indefinite hold, fixing up the EN125 road between Olhão and the Spanish border is not even budgeted for and the electrification of the Via do Algarve railway and a connection to Faro airport remain in the bottom drawer.
One of the more sensible ideas proposed for the 2018 budget, to fund the Algarve motorway tolls from a tourist tax, was kicked out with the toll system to remain just as it is – a hugely expensive and corrupt mess with secret clauses in a PPP concession agreement alongside a rapidly reteriorating road surface.
Despite the region supplying over 40% of tourist income and associated taxes to the Treasury, the Social Democratic Party commented that the Government “has money to spend, just not in the Algarve.”
Kicking out the Left Bloc proposal for the tolls is a particular disappointment with bloquista MP João Vasconcelos pointing out that “it is necessary to take into account the impact of the huge influx of tourists on the regional road network, with visible consequences in the increase of accidents on an EN125 burdened by tourists and people avoiding the A22 because of the cost. The people of the Algarve are particularly penalised and a mechanism must be found to make it possible to eliminate tolls and to invest in the region’s road and rail network.”
According to Vasconcelos, the proposal was “an opportunity to end a tragedy that continues in the Algarve, which has been lost,” referring to the tolls as “one of the biggest economic, social and financial cancers for the Algarve and even for the country?”
The Left Bloc had submitted two budget proposals to eliminate tolls on the Via do Infante, but both were kicked out with the Socialist Party intent on keeping the tolls despite pre-election promises to eliminate them – promises that encouraged many in the region to vote ‘Socialist’ in the last election.
For its part, the Left Bloc says that “the fight to end the tolls in the Algarve, inside and outside parliament, will continue”.
In less than two years the Left Bloc “has already presented seven proposals to parliament, all of which have been blocked by Socialist and right-wing parties,” with João Vasconcelos attributing the greater responsibility to the Socialist Party that, “now in government, had the obligation to make feasible solutions that meet the needs and aspirations of the population and also keep promises made by the Prime Minister, who promised to end the tolls on Via do Infante.”
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