The debate between António Costa, secretary general of the PS, and Rui Rio, president of the PSD, starts at 20:30, with an expected duration of 75 minutes, from the Capitólio cinema, in Lisbon.
In the meantime, you can follow the broadcast of SIC Notícias live and the preparations for the debate.
by the minute
At the start of the debate, Rui Rio said that “in the face of the pandemic, we slowed down the opposition and had an attitude of cooperation”. The PSD president said he is not sorry.
Rui Rio said that the PS “failed at the level of the economy and at the level of public services, especially the National Health Service”.
In response to the PSD leader, António Costa began by saying that the country, at the moment, “needed everything but a political crisis”. The secretary-general quoted the President of the Republic, saying that “it is urgent to turn the page on the pandemic”.
For the leader of the Socialists, recovery and progress are the focus of the Government. As an example, he said that Portugal had already managed to recover the unemployment rate before the crisis and that companies are exporting more than in 2019.
At the attack, António Costa shot that Rui Rio, “at the most serious moment of the crisis”, said that he was against the increase of the national minimum wage. “Dr Rui Rio, often treats central themes with some freshness, lightness”.
Rui Rio said that there are only two probabilities for the outcome of the legislative: “either the PS wins, or the PSD wins”. And that, given this, it is a “danger” for António Costa not to say what he will do if he “wins with a relative majority”. The PSD president stated that “António Costa is not in a position to re-edit the contraption”.
Asked about the uncertainty of how the Socialist Party will position itself in the face of the election results, António Costa said that, in 2015, he had been clear in saying that he would fail a right-wing minority government. “There are no taboos about what will happen on January 30th,” he said. “On the 30th of January at night we will know the results and the result that I consider desirable” is the PS having the majority.
However, if he does not have an absolute majority, Costa will not turn his back on the Portuguese and will speak with the parties with parliamentary seats. However, “Maintenance of the Gadget is not possible”.
On taxes, and in particular on the IRS, the PSD promised in its electoral program to lower this tax, but just two years after the beginning of the legislature, Rui Rio explained that first he wants to create wealth and only then distribute it.
Rui Rio accused the PS Governments of doing the opposite, since they do not agree to distribute first and only then create wealth.
António Costa recalled that he does not go to elections only with a Government program, but with a State Budget for 2022 ready to be implemented. The document reduces the IRS, said the PS leader, “it is not something that will eventually happen in 2025 or 2026 as proposed by Rui Rio”.
Rui Rio stated that Portugal is one of the European countries with the highest tax burden and the lowest net minimum wages.
The PSD defended that on the IRC, a tax that taxes income, it wants company profits to be taxed less so that there is more investment and better wages.
In turn, the socialist leader said he wants to reduce the IRC to those who, for example, increase wages or invest in the countryside. António Costa also considers that Rui Rio “should not play with the concept” of tax burden. “When we talk about the tax burden, we are not just talking about taxes, they are taxes and Social Security contributions. And why has the tax burden increased? (…) Because unemployment has halved from 12.5 to 6.1 and income has been increasing”.
Rui Rio said that he has a macroeconomic framework that is based on the projections of the Public Finance Council and accuses the PS of not having it.
Rui Rio said that if he becomes prime minister he will increase the national minimum wage, taking into account inflation. However, he stated that he will not increase the minimum wage by decree, “above what the economy can”.
The PSD president stressed that Portugal has the second worst median salary. Rui Rio said that the median salary in Portugal is 900 euros, that is, half of the Portuguese earn less than 900 euros and the other half earn more than 900 euros.
He also stated that he cannot predict the increase in the minimum wage until the end of the legislature if he is prime minister, since this increase depends on many factors.
The PSD president also said that “we are leveling wages down”, accusing the PS of being “too much to the left, of impoverishing the country and paying miserable wages”.
“The country needs to increase its salaries in general”, began by saying António Costa, stating that businessmen are in consensus on the salary increase. According to the PS leader, the challenge is to continue to raise the minimum wage and help with measures such as the youth IRS.
However, he admitted that an effort should be made to “ensure that the most qualified generation will be the most accomplished”, placing a focus on the qualification of young people and the need to maintain qualified resources in the country.
In response, Rio stated that “António Costa wants to obtain different results with the same policy he has always followed”. If we want other results, said the social democrat, other policies have to be followed, such as putting “wealth creation first”, so that better wages can be paid later.
National Health Service
The PSD president said that “there are more civil servants and that public services are worse”. To combat this problem, he said: “we have to rationalize services” and increase “the productivity of State services”. Rui Rio said that everything has been degraded with the PS in the Government.
Regarding the lack of family doctors, Costa admitted that he does not throw in the towel and that he does not give up. “Regarding the family doctor, we have to continue to reinforce”, he pointed out, adding that the “reinforcement of human resources has meant a reinforcement of the quality of the service provided to patients”.
And it was with numbers that he proved: more than 2,600 surgeries were performed in 2021 compared to 2019, more than 33 thousand hospital consultations were carried out and more than three million consultations in primary health care. The secretary general also said that the specialty of family medicine has to be more attractive.
On Health, the PSD president said he will try to ensure that all Portuguese have a family doctor by the end of the legislature.
One of the measures proposed by the PSD to combat the absence of a family doctor is immediate access to an assistant doctor, with a contract with private service doctors.
Rui Rio admitted that he is a defender of “Social Security and the National Health Service, which are predominantly public”.
The PSD president did not rule out negotiating a complement with the private sector in Health. Rui Rio said that he will make a public-private partnership whenever necessary and that the State can win.
Access to health services heated up the debate. António Costa considers the measures presented by Rio aim to make the medical class for health care. “You are saying that people from the medical profession will be treated differently. We have a public service for the well-off and a good service for those who have possessions”. Rui Rio denied it, but Costa insisted.
Rui Rio concluded that “there are more than four million Portuguese people who have health insurance or ADSE, because the National Health Service does not provide the response and access that people need”.
Regarding Justice, Rui Rio reiterated that the capacity to respond to the country’s problems is “very weak”. The PSD president said that the “portrait of Justice is bad and I think it is bad not to recognize that it is bad”.
In turn, Costa admitted that it is necessary to strengthen Justice and reform Administrative and Fiscal Justice. With regard to mega-processes, the socialist recalled that all parties, with the exception of Chega, approved a project that contributes to the speed of these cases.
But he went further and said that the PSD program is “very dangerous” in terms of justice, admitting that the Social Democrats want to create “a kind of supervisor” in the Superior Council of the Judiciary.
“What we really need to do is a massive computerization of justice, transform the procedural rules that come from the 9th century”, he concluded.
On the other hand, Rio stated that in the Superior Council of the Judiciary of the Public Ministry there cannot and should not be a majority of magistrates, because there may be a tendency towards corporatism, there must be more transparency. Response to the fact that there may be greater interference from political power.
According to António Costa, the Portuguese airline will be in a position, as soon as possible, to sell 50% of the capital. “If the state hadn’t reacquired it, TAP would have gone to hell”, he pointed out.
The Prime Minister’s confidence remains in the restructuring, noting that the European Commission validated the operation. In addition, António Costa said that several companies have already expressed interest in TAP.
Rui Rio admitted to privatizing TAP if he becomes prime minister. In the debate, he stated that “TAP should not have been nationalized by this government”.
The PSD president underlined that it is a “company that they say with a flag but that only serves Lisbon airport, and in an indecent way”.
As it was a shift, Costa recalled that TAP was not nationalized, but purchased. “We didn’t nationalize it, we bought it to ensure that the private sector wouldn’t kill TAP if it went bankrupt. TAP was saved because the State and the Barraqueiro group were there.”
The arrival of candidates
Rui Rio is already at the Capitólio cinema and made a preview of the debate that could be decisive in the voting intentions of the Portuguese.
The PSD president said that António Costa has to say definitively what he will do if the PS wins without an absolute majority.
Regarding the debate, Rio said that “we are all shouting, like in a boxing match, it doesn’t seem civilized”.
Asked if he would be “picked up” for the debate, he replied that “I don’t come for a bullfight”.
António Costa is also already on the stage of the debate and in the preview he guaranteed that “the good solution to guarantee stability over the next four years is to have a majority of the PS”.
Regarding the confrontation with Rui Rio, he said he hoped it would be a “good and enlightening debate”.
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Antonio Costa vs. Rui Rio: the decisive debate – SIC Notícias