Portugal vows quick budget action after court block
Portugal's prime minister vowed on Friday to find alternatives "as quickly as possible" to a key austerity measure in its 2014 budget that was blocked the previous day by the country's top court.
Pedro Passos Coelho told reporters on the sidelines of a European leaders’ summit in Brussels that they would scramble to find a “new, durable and efficient measure” that would “satisfy the objectives fixed by the international creditors” of the country.
Late on Thursday, the Constitutional Court quashed a part of the budget that foresaw a 10-percent cut in civil service pensions.
“I will do everything possible to end the climate of uncertainty created by this situation,” he said at a news conference relayed on Portuguese television.
The court case was a major blow to the bailed-out country and came just three days after international auditors from the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank had given Lisbon the all-clear on the terms of its 78-billion-euro ($104-billion) aid package.
The savings from the pension cuts have been estimated at 388 million euros, or one tenth of the austerity measures that total 3.9 billion euros.
The cuts were a key plank of the government’s target of bringing the public deficit down to 4.0 percent of output next year and the government must now find the savings elsewhere.