The government led by socialist António Costa and supported in parliament by the radical Left Bloco de Esquerda (BE) and Partido Comunista Português (PCP) presented the 2017 budget law Friday night (Orçamento do Estado – 2017 OE). We are only at the beginning of an obstacle-strewn path, and yet, in spite of everything and contrary to all predictions, the majority continues to hold.
Portugal’s government is now probably one of the few in Europe to give a practical meaning to the concept of the left. And what does it mean to implement left policies? Well, it started by increasing pensions. For those receiving up to €838, there will be an adjustment based on inflation. For those under the threshold of €638, the increase will be €10. For sure, it is not much, but it’s still a figure above inflation, for a total of €120 per year.
Other income support measures will be implemented through a series of indirect measures such as increasing investments in health by 3.7 percent, education (for example, with free elementary school textbooks) and an increase in unemployment benefits. In addition, the IRS (personal income tax) surcharge introduced during the Troika years will be abolished. Its rates range from 1-3 percent.