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The City of Porto wants to go its own way when negotiating decentralization with the central government, Source: Photo by Matt Roskovec on Unsplash

Porto mayor unhappy with the progress of decentralization in the country

Porto mayor unhappy with the progress of decentralization in the country

In his opinion, the National Association of Municipalities has betrayed the process

Earlier this week, Rui Moreira, the mayor of Porto, expressed his displeasure with the way the process of decentralization is going in Portugal being of the opinion that it is not to the benefit of the municipalities. He announced that he will propose to discontinue the membership of his city in the National Association of Municipalities (ANMP), citing their ineffective work in representing the local interests in front of the executive government in Lisbon.

Education, Health Care and Social Action are the areas where local governments want more autonomy

Criticizing a “process that was carried out in fits and starts”, Rui Moreira accuses the ANMP and the Portuguese Government of “negotiating behind our backs” after the Sintra Summit, in 2018. At that time, in his opinion there had been “a great consensus” between the intentions of the State and of the Lisbon and Porto metropolitan areas regarding the transfer of competencies in various areas.

Rui Moreira went as far as to say that he wants “to have the possibility of negotiating directly with the Government” the issue of transferring competence in the area of ​​Education, and also in Social Action and Health Care. Accusing the existence of dealings “behind our backs”, Rui Moreira will propose the departure of Porto from the ANMP.

I do not write a blank check to the National Association of Municipalities (ANMP), which has not properly represented us,” said the mayor of Porto, in statements to journalists, on Tuesday morning.

He added: “Porto, like the overwhelming majority of Portuguese municipalities, is in favour of effective decentralization”. But, for that to happen, he considers it essential “to have an effective delegation of powers, that is, to be able to make decisions that are of interest to our citizens, and, at the same time, that this decentralization was accompanied by the respective financial envelope”.

Reportedly, the mayor has also been backed in his grievances by the mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas. The two mayors wrote a letter to the Portuguese PM Antonio Costa in early March warning about the ineffectiveness of the decentralization process, but now the institutional crisis has reached a new level.

The issue is that, for example, in the educational sphere, the transfer of authority would mean boosting the civil servants' staff locally without providing the necessary compensation to cover such costs.

The mayor of Porto is of the opinion that the central government is doing this on purpose to sabotage the process and show the citizens that having more autonomous municipalities would actually be bad when it comes to providing much needed social services.

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