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Luís Montenegro already on hot seat

Atualizado: 23 de abr.

Filipe Amorim | AFP

Weeks after taking office, the new Government finds itself at the bitter end of accusations over its alleged ‘tricks’ regarding tax cuts.

The issue goes back to PM Luís Montenegro's opening speech for the parliamentary debate on his Government's inaugural programme, on April 11, when he confirmed its intention to approve tax cuts for the middle class worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) - a pledge that was at the heart of the center-right coalitions electoral pitch.

The next morning influential weekly Expresso splashed the story on its front page with the title: "Montengro to double personal income tax cut until the summer".

Expresso's front page last Friday

However, later on Friday, the Minister of Finance, Joaquim Miranda Sarmento, revealed on national TV that the €1.5 billion in tax cuts actually only amounted to around €200 million, as €1.3 billion in tax relief were already in force.

Afterwards, the editor of Expresso wrote an angry article denouncing the PM and the Government for deliberately deceiving the Portuguese people and explaining that they checked the title with Government sources but no one corrected it.

The leader of the opposition, Pedro Nuno Santos, called the announcement "a hoax": “We’ve been warning for months that the measures, that AD’s candidacy was not credible and this is the first proof, the first moment when that is clear,” accused Mr Santos.

“The fiscal shock promised by the PSD didn’t even last a day” since “of the €1.5 billion in tax savings announced by Luís Montenegro, €1.3 billion are the responsibility of the Socialist Party government.

The Government hit back at the suggestion, insisting that the PM didn't lie, and was always “crystal clear” on the issue of tax relief, which will be decreasing for the nation’s citizens from now on.

The opposition must “prepare itself better, study what is being said and not follow in the footsteps of those who have made mistakes, blaming others, practising bad faith politics”, he said.

At a hearing this week, where the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs replaced the Minister for Finance, who travelled to Washington, there were few additional explanations for the apparent inconsistencies in the government's speech.

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