Costa rejects any unconstitutionality in the administrative ownership of houses | Housing

The prime minister denies the existence of any unconstitutionality in the rule that the State can take administrative possession of houses that landlords do not want to put, by their own free will, on the rental market. “I don’t think there is any unconstitutionality. Coercive works have been in the law for many years and have never been considered unconstitutional”, pointed out António Costa in an interview with TVI’s Jornal das 8 about one of the measures of the housing package.

“There is a lack of housing supply. It is not legitimate to have empty houses”, argued the head of Government, stressing that the State can only take administrative possession of a property if the owner refuses to rent the house and after a few years does not have it. still placed on the rental market. “The State does not steal your house (…) It does the works, pays the rents [ao dono]but he deducts the works from his rent”, described António Costa. “The State does not enter his house just like that”, he exemplified.

“It would be unconstitutional if the State occupied the house, charged the rent to the tenant and did not pay the landlord. But if it has carried out works, it has to deduct it from the amount of rent it pays. That is legitimate.”

Regarding measures to combat inflation such as price fixing advocated by the PCP and the Bloc, Costa said that it is currently not possible for the Government to determine the maximum price for food. His expectation is that the tax on excessive profits will eventually force large distribution, which takes a considerable slice of the value of what the consumer pays, to lower prices. “We tried to act on the causes of prices”, he stressed, recalling the measures on energy, for example.

Asked about the possibility of having zero VAT on essential goods, the prime minister says he is not “adept” of such a solution since the Spanish example showed that this decrease was accompanied by an increase in distribution margins.

Asked about the possibility of a repetition, this year, of the support checks for families, António Costa managed to evade the issue by listing at length the various subsidies given by the Government in 2022, as well as the increases in the minimum wage and civil service this year and even defending that “this year’s increases have already covered the inflation” of last year and that “in the last three months inflation has been decelerating”.

objection is understandable

Regarding the increase in opposition to the Government in the streets, Costa assumed that he understands why the inflationary crisis disturbs the lives of all sectors of society. “Even if there is this or that attempt to take advantage of the party, people demonstrate” because they have experienced more difficulties in their lives due to inflation, he admitted, devaluing that the agitators are the PCP and the Bloc. He took the opportunity, however, to give a “peck” to STOP, whose leaders “were expelled from the Bloc for radicalism”.

In the specific case of teachers, he said that these professionals “accumulated a broth of frustration for the most diverse reasons” over many years. Regarding the frozen length of service for teachers from 2005 to 2007 and from 2011 to 2018, he was direct: “It wasn’t me or my government that froze teachers’ careers. We thawed them; we set the clock ticking. (…) What we told the teachers was what they told the others.”

Country can’t handle bill of 1300 million

When asked about whether or not they will recover all the frozen service time, he said that this answer “is not a yes or no”. “And if it has to be, then it’s no.” Because the bill is too high: “I don’t see that the country is in a position to add 1.3 billion euros of permanent annual expenditure for all time”, he argued. And he already does the math: “At the end of this year we have to make the decision whether the country will be able to include a billion euros for the increase in pensioners…”

Costa did not respond to the challenge by Mário Nogueira, general secretary of Fenprof, to sit down personally at the negotiating table. “When the Minister of Education sits down with the unions, it’s me and the Minister of Finance and the entire Government who sit there too”, he said, undervaluing the fact that attempts at an agreement have successively failed. “My obligation is not to reach an agreement with the unions; it is to solve the teachers’ problems”, stated the prime minister.

Still on the controversies that have plagued the executive in recent months, Costa refuses that he has lost his hand in the Government or that he has let himself relax with the absolute majority. But he also does not guarantee that the executive is “armored” to new “little affairs”. “Not even a tank with the highest degree of armor is safe from incident.”

Hence, he also admits that “it would be a miracle that [os portugueses] make a very positive assessment” in the polls taking into account the crisis and the images of protest in the street. But he refused to use the term “disorientation” to talk about the Government because the change of ministers has not corresponded to the change of policies, example Health. Or that the level of contestation could be “dangerous” for your political future.

“I don’t like strikes, nor do I like seeing myself with a pencil stuck in my eye, but the right to strike is legitimate.” He admits, however, that he is “concerned” with the movements of the extreme right and the action of Chega. “I think it’s dangerous (…) the way these movements condition the democratic right. But I believe that the base electorate of the PSD does not admit a drift.”

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