The country discussed for weeks the value of European aid to be allocated to Portugal to face the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was essential to ensure, in the negotiations that took place in Brussels, a generous financial envelope, as GDP threatens to fall by more than double digits. In the end, PM and PR were satisfied with an amount exceeding 40 billion euros for the next 6 years, of which more than 15 billion are non-refundable. A real “bazooka”, said the PM.
However, the country that declared to the world that it was not corrupt (“Portugal is not a country of corrupt”, Pinto Monteiro, PGR, 27/5/2010), loses 18.2 billion euros annually due to corruption . The number is truly overwhelming, corresponding to an annual loss higher than the value of the “bazooka” negotiated for Portugal for the next 6 years. In that period, the amount lost to corruption reached the astronomical value of 18.2 x 6 = 109.2 billion euros, that is, it corresponds to 51.5% of the GDP of 2019.
To get an idea of the social impact of this annual value lost by corruption, I did some math and consulted a report presented in 2018 in the European Parliament by the Greens and the Free Alliance.
The 18.2 billion euros lost annually by corruption in Portugal correspond to more than 10 times the budget for unemployment benefits (about 1.8 billion euros).
This figure is higher than the annual health budget (16, 1 billion euros) and corresponds to 80% of the amount spent by the country on retirement and old age care (22.4 billion euros). In fact, this figure corresponds to essentially half of what is spent in Portugal with all Social Security services.
At a time when many are concerned about security and fires, know that this amount lost by corruption corresponds to almost 10 times the amount spent on policing (1.9 billion euros) and more than 72 times the amount spent on firefighters (251 million euros).
When the future is seen as an investment, we should be concerned to know that Portugal loses more than 314 times annually what it spends on housing policies to corruption (58 million euros), more than 9 times what it spends on policies to protect family and children (1.9 million), more than 7 times what he spends on support for illness and disability (2.4 billion euros) and more than double what he spends on education (8.7 billion) .
If we wanted to distribute this amount among the Portuguese population, that would mean an annual subsidy of almost 1800 euros, which corresponds to about 5 euros a day. It is easy to see that poverty and hunger would be ended, since 18.2 billion distributed among the approximately 2 million Portuguese at risk of poverty is equivalent to an annual value per person of approximately 9100 euros, that is, 750 euros per month (25 euros per day).
Consequently, António Costa missed the target. It was not community funds that you should be concerned about, but an ambitious plan to fight corruption. With that, and recovering a large part of these 18.2 billion euros, the country could invest in the NHS, ensure better education, be able to protect people at the end of its life and have the financial muscle to define priorities and invest in the future. . The Swedish economist who said days ago that Portugal has conditions to be one of the most developed countries in Europe is right. Indeed it has. However, it decides not to combat a phenomenon that consumes almost 8% of the national GDP, even stating that this phenomenon does not exist. Despite good intentions, parties in the arc of power have been ineffective in this struggle. The question is, what do you get out of it?