Support from VRSA Chamber for Firefighters approved with controversy in the mix

Extraordinary Chamber Meeting this Monday, January 29th, discussed support given to the Humanitarian Association of Volunteer Firefighters of Vila Real de Santo António and Castro Marim

The measure was approved – and it would always be due to the majority in the executive –, but the Vila Real de Santo António City Council's protocol of support for the Volunteer Firefighters caused controversy. Mayor Álvaro Araújo accuses the PSD of «wanting to create facts and leaving a huge debt», while the opposition hides in the Court of Auditors' rejection of this same support, last year. 

The extraordinary Chamber meeting this Monday, January 29th, had as a single item on the agenda precisely the vote on the collaboration protocol for the functioning of Civil Protection, which includes the issue of Firefighters.

The proposal was approved with votes in favor from Ricardo Cipriano, vice-president of the Chamber, who used a casting vote, from Paulo Manuel and Álvaro Leal (councilors with responsibilities).

José Carlos Barros, Joel Cruz and Rita Livramento, all PSD councilors, voted against.

Álvaro Araújo, president of the Chamber, was not present (due to other agenda commitments), but, in statements to the Sul Informação, explained the controversy caused by this support of 400 thousand euros.

Last year, together with the Chamber of Castro Marim, since the Fire Department serves both municipalities, it was decided to allocate support for four years of around 2,7 million euros, divided into around 1,6 million for VRSA and 1,1 million for Castro Marim.

However, as the amount exceeded 750 thousand euros, the decision had to go to the Court of Auditors.

The TC ended up not giving a favorable approval, taking cover in the fact that the VRSA Chamber did not have «funds available to allow it to support the commitment made», as stated in this document from the Court of Auditors.

According to Álvaro Araújo, the solution found was to create a new protocol, but only annually, with support of around 400 thousand euros, which thus eliminates the need for a TC visa.


Álvaro Araújo – Photo: Nuno Costa | Sul Informação


«We found a solution with a legal opinion that comforts us», said the president of the Chamber to our newspaper. But what comforts the municipality is far from comforting the opposition.

In statements to the Sul Informação, Joel Cruz, one of the PSD councilors present at the meeting, explained that the opposition wanted the support proposal to be accompanied by a “legal opinion”, confirming its legality.

«The Court of Auditors understood that it was illegal, as it violated the Commitments Law, and, to protect both entities, we voted against it», he considered.

Furthermore, in the declaration of vote presented, the PSD councilors say that «they cannot ignore that, less than a year ago, when the Municipality of VRSA tried to financially support the association of voluntary firefighters, the Court of Auditors understood that the aforementioned support finance violated the law: it was illegal».

At the normal Chamber meeting, on Thursday, January 25th, the PSD says that it asked for the proposal “to be removed from the agenda and only included when it is accompanied by a legal opinion confirming that this protocol complies with the legislation applicable".

However, according to the Social Democrats, the «proposal appears again without a legal opinion to support it and guarantee its legality».

The opinion that accompanies the proposal, dated, according to the PSD, on May 15, 2023, «does not address the protocol to be signed in January 2024 and does not guarantee its legality».

Álvaro Araújo has another understanding: the opinion “exists” and, even though it is from last year, “it comforts us in relation to the future”.

Furthermore, according to the mayor, the protocol voted on this Monday continues to be for just one year to escape the moorings of the Court of Auditors.

Accusing the PSD of “lying”, Araújo leaves one last attack.

«The previous administration gave little importance to the Firefighters, something that, for us, was always a goal. Firefighters haven't had their careers updated for years and we, just this year, managed to make a series of promotions. Whoever is in the opposition wants to create facts; we have to find solutions».


Read some more!
A strong region needs a strong press and, these days, the press depends on its readers. We make all Sul Infomação content available free of charge, because we believe that it is not through barriers that the public approaches responsible and quality journalism. Therefore, your contribution is essential.  
Contribute here!