One of the problems with living in a pandemic is that it seems like we’re on a treadmill that sometimes gets us going, but for the most part it slows us down or even pulls us back. The coming week has in prospect a progression of new cases of covid which leads us to seriously consider that the country and the world will evolve in the direction opposite to that desired.
The year 2020, which already has malignant resonances, is not yet over and the times to come could well also mean that 2021 is also pronounced with a thrill. If over the summer we thought we had already bottomed out, the possibility of a second wave can only strengthen the OECD projections that the Portuguese economy could fall by 11.3% in 2020, well above the government’s forecast, which estimates a 7% break.
The scenario of enormous uncertainty for the public accounts, as admitted by the Minister of Finance, the difficulty of knowing what is the starting point, makes more fragile the exercise of discussion of the economic recovery plan that António Costa must present before December 15th. October. It will always be important to continue the path opened by the Costa Silva report, especially if it is to clarify some of the options set out, to reach a consensus on the objectives, in a country where the programming of public policies is so difficult. But without knowing the depth of our problem and without knowing when relief funds can arrive from Europe – which will always depend on a complicated ratification process by all the parliaments of the member countries – future exercises will be hampered by the uncertainty of the gift.
The present will continue to demand measures to protect the most fragile sectors, from layoffs to moratoria, but the executive, in line with its desire not to return to imprisonment, will have to change tactics. As the OECD demanded last week, there is a need to strike a balance between defensive aid and incentives to the economy, which in many cases means abandoning companies to encourage more viable ones. .
The best of Público by email
Subscribe to newsletters for free and receive the best news and the most in-depth work from Público.
It is the same with the savings of the Portuguese. Its growth, thanks to reduced consumption and state protection measures, constitutes an important cushion at a time of declining income. But if that money does not start to flow into the economy, the possibilities for a faster recovery are seriously jeopardized.
Everything is even more difficult if, as you would expect, the Covid treadmill starts to pull us back again. Staying still will never be the solution – to counterbalance the movement of the treadmill, we have to run faster.