The Finance Minister said today that "a very demanding winter" is anticipated, but with "light at the end of the tunnel" and that "the good budget" for next year is what "Portugal needs" to overcome the crisis.
"We can already see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have to cross it," said João Leão, in a video recorded message about the entry into force, on January 1, of the State Budget for 2021, arguing that the document for the next year – “the good budget” – is what “Portugal needs to overcome this crisis”.
“On the one hand, and immediately, the second wave [da pandemia de covid-19] it is being very intense, so a very demanding winter is anticipated. But on the other hand, the successful emergence of vaccines for covid-19, allows us to anticipate a favorable evolution of the pandemic over the next year, which creates the conditions for a strong recovery of the economy in 2021 ”, added the government official.
In the same message, João Leão underlined that the budget was prepared to help the country and face the effects of the covid-19, based on three main priorities: “fighting the pandemic”, “protecting the income of the Portuguese” and “protecting employment and recover the economy ”.
Thus, the Minister of Finance recalled the reinforcement of the National Health Service with more than 1,000 million euros to hire more than 4,500 health professionals, buy vaccines against covid-19, personal protective equipment, opening new beds and investing in health centers and the acquisition of hospital equipment.
João Leão also highlighted the increase of 30 euros in the national minimum wage, which changes to 665 euros as of January, and the extraordinary increase of 10 euros to two million pensioners.
The budget also foresees, he continued, the reduction of the withholding tax rates, “increasing the Portuguese disposable income in the amount of 200 million euros in 2021”, and the reduction of VAT on electricity, which will allow “annual savings EUR 150 million ”.
"The State Budget for 2021 also has as a central concern not to leave anyone behind, so we reinforced social protection," said the minister, referring to the new social benefit, of an extraordinary nature, for workers who lost their income as a result of the pandemic, the extension of unemployment benefit for another six months for those who lose access to that benefit during 2021 and access to free daycare centers for 65,000 children.
The Minister of Finance also recalled measures to protect employment and recover the economy, such as the layoff program, the Apoiar program, or bank default.
"These measures will make a fundamental contribution to a strong recovery of the economy and, thus, also to the reduction of the deficit and public debt", he pointed out.
"This evolution of the economy and public finances will contribute to give confidence to the Portuguese, demonstrating that the country is on the right track, and that it is following a safe and sustainable path", concluded João Leão.