As part of the the Troika ‘bail out’ deal of 2011, the Portuguese government agreed to a mass privatisation programme flogging off publicly owned energy, water and waste management, communications, insurance, transportation, ship-building and public broadcasters.
Lisbon has reportedy already beaten its bailout target to raise 5.5 billion euros from privatisations by the end of 2013, but if the sale of ANA, the airports operator, is anything to go by the country’s family silver is being flogged off at bargain prices.
The Government had previously said it would generate EUR 3 billion from the sale of ANA but according to campaign organisation Attac, quoting official sources, it will only actually get 1.1 billion euros.
The money will be spent thus – 993 million euros for the repayment of the public debt and 113 million euros to repay the debts of Parpública – the state run holding company that owns ANA among other assets.
Says Attac: ‘They sell profitable and strategic companies on the cheap, to pay the creditors.’
Meanwhile the Portuguese people continue to struggle under mass unemployment, sky high poverty, declining wages collapsing public services – and face a third straight year of austerity policies.
The figures were released just as the chief of the respected Portuguese Economic and Social Council slammed the IMF-ECB-EU programme in Portugal in a speech to MEPs. According to Silva Peneda, the Troika
- was ‘ignorant of the reality of the Portuguese economy’
- ‘inadequately’ characterized the crisis in the country
- underestimated the ‘deep structural imbalances’ in a country whose economy is based on undercapitalized small and medium firms,
- ‘did not take proper account of the high levels of indebtedness businesses and households
- neglected the importance of domestic demand and the strong negative impact of the reduction on growth and jobs, as well as the indiscriminate reduction of expenditure ‘focused on wage cuts for civil servants and reducing reforms’
- gave insufficient ‘time to implement its programme’
- labour reforms backed by the Troika had led to deregulation in the jobs market
- its programme has caused a ‘disturbing breakdown of society’, hitting the middle class in particular