LISBON, Portugal ( Associated Press) – Members of Portugal’s center-left Socialist Party will be sworn in on Wednesday for the party’s third consecutive term in government, as the country prepares to provide about 45 billion euros ($ 50 billion) in aid to to spend the European Union. to help fuel one of the bloc’s weakest economies.
The Socialists won 120 seats in parliament with 230 seats in a landslide in January, paving the way for far-reaching reforms long delayed by political strife. The main opposition center-right Social Democratic Party has 77 seats.
Prime Minister António Costa, the Socialist Party leader who has led the country since 2015, promised an economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, but now faces adversity stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Portugal, a country with about 10.3 million people, has been characterized for more than two decades by low growth, low productivity and low salaries.
New challenges include a sharp rise in the cost of living, including higher electricity and gas prices for households and businesses, in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Consumer confidence showed its second sharpest drop on record in March, the national statistics agency reported on Wednesday. It also said that rental prices for accommodation rose by more than 8% at the end of last year.
Despite the promise of more public spending, incoming finance minister Fernando Medina said keeping a tight lid on national debt was a “fundamental priority” for the new government, adding that the country’s international credibility depends on it.
Due to delays in holding the general election and the counting of votes, the new parliament, which was sworn in on Tuesday, is unlikely to accept the 2022 state budget before the end of June due to bureaucratic procedures.
The EU aid expected in the coming years includes 15.3 billion euros ($ 17 billion) in immediate pandemic recovery aid and almost 30 billion euros ($ 33.4 billion) as part of EU subsidies until 2027.