Jamila Madeira: Construction of the Algarve Central Hospital «is the cause of the causes» for the PS

First of a series of interviews with top-of-lists across the Algarve

Jamila Madeira, 46, economist, is currently a socialist deputy, a role she had already held four times before. She was Assistant Secretary of State and Health in the outgoing government of António Costa. Before, from 2004 to 2009, she was an MEP. Between 2000 and 2004, she was secretary general of the Socialist Youth. He is now the head of the PS list for the 30 January Legislative Elections, for the Algarve circle.

As the representative of the party that most elected deputies in the previous 2019 Legislatures, she is also the candidate who opens the series of interviews that the Sul Informação will publish, with all the heads of the list of all the political forces that are candidates for the constituency of the district of Faro.

To all, and in a logic of equal opportunities, the same questionnaire with 12 questions was sent, in a timely manner.

The answers are, of course, diverse, as will become clear over the next few days, with the publication of all the interviews.


Sul Informação: What are the priorities of your political force for the next legislature for the Algarve?

Jamila Madeira – The Socialist Party's priorities for the Algarve are very much in line with what we presented in the 2019 Legislative Elections. In fact, it couldn't be otherwise, there is a work started, in many areas already with a lot of progress and that is necessary conclude.
Therefore, for these elections we present a consolidation program that is based on the following pillars:
1. The construction of the Central Hospital of the Algarve and the improvement of the current ones, especially in terms of rehabilitation, as well as new buildings and re-equipment of health centers in the Algarve, with more than 39 million investment;
2. Improving accessibility, so that we can be more competitive. In this regard, by way of example, we are going to work towards the creation of a surface metro connecting the University of the Algarve, the Airport and the new hospital in Parque das Cidades. We also defend the redemption of the EN125 concession and the electrification of the railway, which has already begun;
3. The implementation of the investments of 200 million euros included in the Algarve Water Efficiency Plan, such as a desalination plant, the capture of water from the Guadiana River to recharge the Odeleite dam and the retention in multiple small dams of the water that flows into the sea, increasing surface water reserves, in addition to reusing treated wastewater for agricultural or urban purposes, in order to guarantee quality and quantity water for our future.
4. The diversification of the economy, with support for the creation of new areas of exploration and with support for existing companies, seeking to leverage sectors that allow the reduction of the percentage weight of tourism in the regional economy and support for the recovery of post-covid tourism.
5. The construction of thousands of affordable homes for the middle class, young people and workers. At the moment, there are already 3322 houses contracted between the Government and Municipal Councils to be built in the Algarve.

SI – What led you to accept being the head of the list for the party or political force you represent?

JM – My commitment to the Algarve has always been around, but in the 2019 Legislatures, it was the first time that I was head of the list for our region. Now, as we all know, the work we were carrying out – and at a good pace – was unexpectedly interrupted with the lead of the State Budget for 2022.
Because we believe that we are on the right path and that it is necessary to continue moving forward, I had to accept being head of the list again. It is a position that I greatly honor and to which I am deeply committed. I am not – in the PS, we are not – to abandon ship and, therefore, here I am – here we are – to continue the work.

SI – What are the expectations and objectives of your political force in relation to these Legislative Elections?

JM – Two years ago, in the 2019 Legislatures, we were the most voted party in the Algarve. This confidence of the Algarve was reiterated, already in 2021, in the Municipal Elections, in which the PS won 12 of the 16 Chambers.
We don't work alone. In the Algarve, the deputies and the mayors of the Socialist Party work together and we are convinced that the Algarve will continue to give us, in the majority, their trust.

SI – What remains to be done in the Algarve?

JM – There will always be a lot to do everywhere, because it is part of the human condition and, above all, of a political project like the PS, to evolve and improve people's lives every day. Naturally, the Algarve is no exception and, therefore, much remains to be done.
The priorities that we present for the Algarve in these Legislatures and that I briefly stated in the first answer, are what, in fact, we consider most urgent. I would say, in an objective way, that the new central hospital in the Algarve is missing, which we believe is in a position to move forward.
There is still a need to build affordable housing for families with intermediate incomes, but we are with the municipalities to develop local housing strategies, with guaranteed funds to build affordable housing.
It remains to ensure water in quality and quantity for all, but we are the only region in the country that has, in the PRR, an exclusive drawer with 200 million euros to invest in water efficiency.
We need to generate more jobs and diversify our economic base, so as not to be so dependent on the constraints of tourism and with the commitment of Prime Minister António Costa, we will have at our disposal 740 million euros of community funds, more than double what the PSD gave to the Algarve in 2011, to support companies and the economy.
There is also a need to improve accessibility between the municipalities in the Region and connections with the rest of the country and the world, but we have already awarded the electrification of the railway line and we have the green light to build a surface meter. We await the Court's decision to finish the works on the EN 125 and we need, once and for all, to look at the Algarve as an environmentally excellent region, where we are pioneers in the [fight against] climate change. We finally have funds to intervene in our forest, adding value and making it more resilient to fire, we have a multi-annual dredging plan that defends the barrier islands and our beaches and cliffs. We will proceed with the creation of the Lagoa dos Salgados Nature Reserve, the Pedra do Valado Marine Reserve or the Algarvensis Geopark.

SI – Health is a deficit sector in the Algarve and in the country. What measures do you recommend to solve the health problems in the Algarve?

JM – The construction of the Central Hospital of the Algarve and the improvement, especially in terms of rehabilitation, of the current hospitals, new buildings and the re-equipment of health centers in the Algarve, with more than 39 million investment, are, as I have already had the opportunity to say, one of the Socialist Party's top priorities.
Alongside this investment, there is another, more transversal, which is related to the training of the region to attract and retain staff, especially clinical ones. It is necessary to make the job market – also very much in the health area – more attractive and, in this matter, the University of Algarve has a central role. Complementing the new challenges that, naturally, will be launched with the new hospital and also with the diversification of the economy that we want to carry out, all this will certainly bring added value in terms of attracting and securing differentiated human resources.
The Centro Hospitalar e Universitário do Algarve has now presented, to community funds, the construction of an Oncological Reference Center that will allow cancer patients to undergo all tests and treatments in the region, combining research and clinical practice.
We still have to continue to strengthen and intensify the brand of excellence that is the Center for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of the South in São Brás de Alportel

SI – As for the Central Hospital of the Algarve? When should you move forward and why?

JM – Right away. Because it is indeed necessary and has long been demanded. The pandemic context has stopped, in the last two years, the process that, in itself, is already very complex.
But this is the cause of the causes and we believe that, in the coming months of 2022, the construction of the hospital will be decided.
This process, in my opinion, in our view, is to be advanced in the next year.

SI – The previous government advanced with the Decentralization of Competences to the Municipalities. What balance do you make of this process?

JM – The decentralization process has been a success and I believe that this path should continue, bearing in mind that, by bringing the decision closer to the problem, this is naturally resolved in a positive way for the benefit of the populations.

SI – Should a future government move forward with Regionalization? Why or why not?

JM – Regionalization is the key part of this decentralization process. The first step in this direction was the election of the Coordination and Regional Development Commissions (CCDR) and now the consummation should be the new referendum and the recognition of the map of the regions, with the Algarve natural region, as well as the creation of the administrative region of the Algarve .
We believe in regionalization, today as in 1975 or 1998, and we will continue to fight for this instrument of territorial management, which, as we can attest by the examples in other countries where this is a reality, we know will bring more development and cohesion to our territories.

SI – In the Assembly of the Republic, there have been resolutions to end tolls on Via do Infante or, at least, to introduce significant discounts. What do you think about this topic and what solutions do you recommend?

JM – The PS's commitment was to reduce tolls by up to 50%. During these six years of legislature, this path has been progressively followed, although we all want a free Via do Infante.
It is important to mention that what we defend is a comprehensive mobility plan for the region. In this sense, the tender for the electrification of the railway line between Faro and Vila Real de Santo António, which will allow Intercidades to reach the end of the line.
The tender for the electrification of the Lagos-Tunes section is also in the tender evaluation phase, which was deserted in a first tender.
In addition, the Government, in partnership with the municipalities, launched a new public road transport concession, VAMUS, operating since 1 December, which will not only have routes readjusted to the identified needs, but also, in the contract, adjustments are foreseen regular meetings in order to improve the adequacy of the service. Additionally, the possibility of transport at the request of housing units of at least 40 inhabitants is foreseen.
Associated with this effort, the value of road and rail passes was also reduced by half, which significantly increased access, with an intermodal pass being negotiated.
Two other structural investments in this mobility strategy are the work of the surface metro, which will serve around 250 thousand users, connecting the Airport, the University and the new Hospital Central do Algarve, as well as the feasibility study of connecting the Algarve line to the European Mediterranean rail corridor. This is essential for the ecological footprint of a tourist region like ours and for ensuring its continued connection to Europe.
Naturally, the conversion of public transport to electric vehicles within the framework of the energy transition is essential and this is already foreseen as a next step.
Initiatives should also be taken so that the largest fleet of cars in the region, the fleet of rental cars without a driver, can be helped to carry out a rapid conversion, in order to contribute to our effort to combat climate change.

SI – At the beginning of the current pandemic crisis, the Government announced a specific plan for the Algarve, which never came to fruition. What does Algarve Tourism need to recover from the pandemic?

JM – In 2011, the PSD in government negotiated EU funds for Portugal and the Algarve received less than 300 million euros.
Now, the PS, in the Government, has negotiated the next multiannual financial framework for European support and the Algarve will have around 740 million euros – which will already be more than double.
Of these, around 440 million euros are formatted within the usual community funds lines, and another 300 million euros will be used specifically for the diversification of the Algarve's economic base, to support the economy and companies.
This package was the result of a negotiation promoted by the Government for the Algarve in the tough negotiation of community funds.
In addition to all this, during this difficult process of the pandemic, the Government made available to the Algarve and Algarve companies, within the framework of measures to mitigate the pandemic, around 352 million euros in direct support to companies. I emphasize, during the pandemic, the Government allocated 352 million euros to companies in the Algarve to ensure that the region's productive capacity was not destroyed by the pandemic and so that companies, through the layoff, could continue to guarantee wages to workers.
This was the difference between the 2011-2015 financial crisis, which the right managed with austerity, saying that we all had to be impoverished, that bankruptcies were inevitable and that it was best to emigrate.
The counterpoint is the solidarity in which the PS Government acted in this pandemic, avoiding bankruptcies, saving jobs and protecting workers.
It should also be noted that the Algarve still has an additional 200 million at its disposal for water, to implement the Water Efficiency Plan, and, knowing that there is no economic model that is sustainable without housing for its inhabitants and workers, they are already contracted with the municipalities of the Algarve more than 200 million euros for the construction of affordable housing, which represents, at the moment, 3322 dwellings for families of intermediate income.
They are, in total. more than EUR XNUMX million – it almost seems that we have returned to the times when we were a convergence region.
Strange, therefore, the cries coming from the right and from those who, back in 2011, claimed that 300 million euros was enough.

SI – In the case of more fractious issues, such as regionalization, tolls on Via do Infante and health, among others, if you are elected, will you vote for the AR according to your conviction, even if it goes against the guidelines of your party?

JM – I always voted according to my convictions and according to what, at any given moment, I thought was the best option for the Algarve and for the country.

SI – Do you want to add any more topics or questions?

JM – In the last six years, we have consecutively increased the minimum wage. We replaced the 13th and 14th month that the PSD had cut. We replaced the pensions, ending the PSD cuts. We have doubled the cut of more than 1000 million euros in the National Health Service that the PSD carried out. We hired more doctors and nurses. We did all this with the right accounts and growing faster than the European Union average.
Now we want to continue on the path that we started, executing the investments that we have put on the rails, maintaining the line of convergence with the European Union of at least 0,5 pp above the European average, guaranteeing a gradual increase in the average income per worker by 20% between 2021 and 2026, as well as increasing by 2026 the weight of wages in GDP by 3 percentage points, to reach the average value of the Union, all with dialogue and social consultation.
These elections are decisive, we all have to go to vote and guarantee a majority of the PS that guarantees serenity and progress.
We believe that, following this route, we will have a future path for the Algarve and for Portugal.
We fight, therefore, for the Algarve and the Algarve to give us, on the 30th, the confidence of their vote.