Passos Coelho: Government reduced tolls «the minimum of the minimum» and still made money

The reduction of tolls on the A22 and other ex-SCUT (roads at no cost to the user), decreed by the Government in […]

The reduction of tolls on the A22 and other ex-SCUT (roads at no cost to the user), decreed by the Government in August, was the «minimum of the minimum» that would be possible, following the renegotiation promoted by the previous executive, assured this Saturday Pedro Passos Coelho, on a date with regional journalists in Albufeira.

The former prime minister and current president of the PSD assured that a study commissioned when he was still leading the country's destinations pointed to the possibility of reducing tolls on Via do Infante «between 30 and 35 percent» and that the reduction of 15 per cent percent decreed by the Government was the lowest possible.

"The PS Government was left with the minimum of the minimum, which, just by the effect of the quantity, guaranteed that the Government would allocate more money with the tolls", he accused. In other words, now you pay less for tolls, but the State puts in more money, taking into account that there are more vehicles circulating on the A22.

And it could even have been the previous Government that moved forward with a reduction, which just didn't happen, guaranteed Passos Coelho, because it was on top of Legislative Elections. «We had everything ready to go, but, as I said at the time, we wouldn't do it given the approaching elections», he revealed, adding that he has always refused to use his position to obtain electoral dividends, something that he "is sure" is now happening with the PS Government, in relation to the Local Authorities.

As for the size of the cut in toll prices, if he had been elected, the president of the PSD says he cannot go forward with a value, even because "it would depend a lot if we only included the tourist class or if the measure was also applied to heavy vehicles ».

For Pedro Passos Coelho, talking about tolls is, at least now, talking about the works on the EN125. The former prime minister, whose executive implemented the tolls in the ex-SCUT, now argues that the tolls on Via do Infante "should be suspended" while the works on the road linking Vila do Bispo to VRSA last.

A measure that was called for many times by the living forces of the region, during the previous legislature, but which was never accepted by the Government that Passos Coelho led. The apparent change of vision of the leader of the Social Democrats is justified by the weight of the works now underway. “When the works manifest themselves with this intensity, there should be suspension”, he said.

Do not think, with this, that the leader of the PSD defends that there should be no tolls. Pedro Passos Coelho reaffirmed that he advocates the charging of fees in ex-SCUT and the user-pays principle, but considers that there should be "positive discrimination", that is, discounts, in depressed areas and also on roads that "have not been paid with the money of Portuguese taxpayers”, as is the case of Via do Infante, which was largely paid for by European Union funds.

This was just one of the subjects that was on the table, in a conversation where some of the most hot of the Algarve today, such as issues related to health and the difficulties of the NHS in the region, the municipal elections this year, public investment and regionalization, among others.