23 February 2022

Most media focus is on events in Ukraine, with several reporting the condemnation by the PM, President and leaders of most of the main political parties. It is reported the PCP has criticised Western leaders for inflaming the situation. As the drought continues, plans are being drawn up for measures designed to reduce water use. Divisions within PAN are dismissed by its leader, and the Public Prosecutor has dropped charges against André Ventura and other Chega leaders for breaching Covid restrictions.

RTP and Público report PM Costa’s and President Rebelo de Sousa’s condemnation of President Putin’s decision to recognise the two Ukrainian regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists, claiming it is a violation of the Minsk agreements and of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Público adds that every Portuguese political party represented in parliament with the exception of the Communists (PCP) has condemned Russia’s actions and are expected to call for sanctions at this Thursday’s meeting of the Standing Committee. The PCP has blamed the West for inflaming the situation. 

Expresso notes that, as a war looks likely to break out, there is some concern that the term of office of General Joaquim Borrego, Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CEMFA), is due to end this Saturday without the Ministry of Defence yet informing him whether or not his mandate is to be extended, as is required by law.

Expresso and JN say Environment Minister João Matos Fernandes has not ruled out introducing a number of restrictions to save water as the drought continues. Measures being considered include hosepipe bans, limits to filling swimming pools, a ban on washing streets and extending the use of grey, residual, water to areas outside Lisbon and the Algarve where this has already been introduced.

RTP reports that Lisbon City Council has unanimously approved a package worth around €2 million in measures designed to support economic activity in the fight against Covid-19. Measures include a 50% reduction in non-residential rents and a 50% reduction in the operating costs of kiosks and municipal markets.

JN and Público note that PAN spokeswoman Inês de Sousa Real has dismissed internal opponents to her leadership as a “noisy minority” who are not representative of the party membership, adding that she will listen to party members at the forthcoming congress.

CNN PT claims the Public Prosecutor has dropped charges against André Ventura and other leaders of the populist right-wing party Chega for holding a dinner rally attended by 170 people in the northern city of Braga in January 2021, in contravention of Covid restrictions then in force. 

Dinheiro Vivo picks up an article from the NYT that reports the possibility of a war between Ukraine and Russia is spooking markets, with reflections on oil and natural gas trading. Rising prices caused by Ukraine-Russia tension is another focus of pressure on the global economy. Expresso and Visão confirm this with reports that the price of natural gas purchased through the Title Transfer Facility opened yesterday up 8%, at €80 per MWh before falling back slightly to €77 per MWh in Lisbon. Dinheiro Vivo also notes that fears the crisis could disrupt oil supplies have resulted in the price of Brent rising to $99 a barrel, the highest price since 2014.

Expresso reports on the decision of German Chancellor Scholz to “freeze” the newly-constructed Nord Stream 2 from Russia, which supplies 23% of Europe’s gas. It notes that while Portugal had stopped importing gas from Russia last November, the suspension of Nord Stream 2 will force Europe to step up the purchase of gas from other suppliers.

Dinheiro Vivo publish a report by the Bank of Portugal showing state, corporate and household debt in Portugal rose by €16.9 billion to €768.1bn in 2021, which represents a reduction in relative terms against GDP.
Negócios carries a report from the European Ready4H2 (Ready for Hydrogen) Alliance that claims Investing in European gas distribution networks to receive and distribute hydrogen would allow annual energy infrastructure savings of €41 billion when compared with the alternative of developing electricity infrastructure.

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