Passos Coelho wants to lower toll prices on Via do Infante (with video)

The prices of ex-Scut tolls, namely in Via do Infante, will decrease, announced the prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho. […]

Pedro Passos Coelhonuno costa_1The prices of ex-Scut tolls, namely in Via do Infante, will decrease, announced the prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho. «Four years ago, I had said that there were some of them, from the outset Via do Infante, in the Algarve, that needed to have a differentiation that reflected the real cost of the investment that had been made and the actual costs of conservation and maintenance that would exist to occur in the future'.

Pedro Passos Coelho thus answered the questions posed by the Sul Informação and by Jornal do Fundão, two of the main Portuguese regional newspapers to whom, last Friday, the government leader gave an interview to assess the legislature.

Asked about the possibility that, in the future, the price of tolls in the ex-SCUT may vary depending on criteria such as the average purchasing power of each region, the prime minister replied: "I think this must be done."

And why haven't these discounts on toll prices already been advanced? Passos Coelho explained that, "because we have been carrying out the renegotiation of all Public-Private Partnerships - concessions and sub-concessions -, we felt that it was not advisable to change [however] the value of the fees that are being practiced".

However, he announced, "we are practically concluding this work, even now, in the Council of Ministers this week [last Thursday], we approved two more new concession bases and respective contract drafts", referring to the North Coast and Beira Inside.

Once this PPP renegotiation process is over, and after convincing the financing entities of the usefulness of the changes, Pedro Passos Coelho maintains that the objective is to «change in the tariffs».

Pedro Passos Coelho on tolls: «We will manage, with the institutions with whom these agreements have to be formalized, to close the issue of contracts and then we will be able to change the tariffs»

"It is my conviction that we will succeed, with the institutions with whom these agreements have to be formalized - essentially, the European Investment Bank and banking entities in Portugal, since, with the sub-concessionaires and concessionaires, we have already negotiated - , close the issue of contracts and then we can change the rates. I think we will be able to do this by positively discriminating those [ex-Scut] that are primarily aimed at less developed regions».

And how much will this drop in toll prices be? The prime minister says that it is still "too early to be setting the precise objective regarding discrimination, the differentiation that may be made, but I believe it will have some amplitude".

Pedro Passos Coelhonuno costa_2With regard to the calendar, Passos Coelho does not commit to doing it before the Legislative Elections in September or next October. “I don't know if it will be possible”, since “it depends on us being able to close this whole process”. But "I will not fail to announce this model and, if it is not possible to put it into practice until the elections, we will commit to do it soon afterwards", he assured, confidently.

As for the works on the EN125, Passos Coelho admits the delays in restarting the works. "It is true that only last year we were able to rescue the concession, it took some time for the Infrastructure to be able to directly make the planned investments".

However, the prime minister considers that intervention on the EN125 is a "priority", because "it is not just about the alternative to Via do Infante, it has to do with the safety with which all that flow, that coastal mobility needs to be do". The road that crosses the Algarve from one end to the other, admitted Passos Coelho, «has shown a very high and very serious accident level».

"I sincerely hope that these works can be carried out according to the schedule that was set", concluded the prime minister, in an interview he gave to the main regional newspapers in the country, at his official residence, at the Palácio de S. Bento, in Lisbon. From the PM's office, because Passos Coelho didn't have these data on the tip of the tongue: Sul Informação it also received a laconic supplementary information: «the works [of the EN125] will be completed by the end of 2016».