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Portugal PM seeks to fend off tax controversy

Published on 11/03/2015

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho on Wednesday sought to calm a storm over his late payment of taxes and social security contributions as protesters shouted for him to resign.

Passos Coelho, speaking before parliament, acknowledged oversights but said he had dealt with the issues revealed in press reports in late February.

“I can guarantee to the entire country that I have regularised my situation,” he said. “I have not obtained favours from the state or social security office.”

Passos Coelho, prime minister since 2011, was twice interrupted by protesters in the gallery who yelled for him to resign before they were escorted away.

Media reports last month said Passos Coelho had not paid his social security contributions for five years between 1999 and 2004, while he worked as a consultant for vocational training company Tecnoforma.

Confronted over the issue by a journalist in 2012, he went to the administration and was told of a debt of 2,880 euros ($3,038), with interest of 1,034 euros.

Passos Coelho decided to pay the amount in February in order to put an end to the “baseless accusations,” he said at the time.

Further press reports said the prime minister had also faced five tax adjustments between 2003 and 2007 that led to the payment of nearly 6,000 euros in penalties.

Passos Coelho, who heads a centre-right government, acknowledged oversights but insisted that the bottom line was that he had paid what he owed.

The tax authorities and social security office have confirmed that the prime minister paid his debts.

An online petition started on March 6 demanding his resignation however had been signed by more than 18,600 people as of Wednesday, far more than the 4,000 signatures needed to force a parliamentary debate.