The economist and first president of the Public Finance Council, Teodora Cardoso, died this Saturday in Lisbon at the age of 81. An independent, she was a critical and demanding voice on budgetary policy.
The economist and first president of the Public Finance Council, Teodora Cardoso, died this Saturday in Lisbon at the age of 81, a source from the Bank of Portugal told Lusa.
Teodora Cardoso was born in Estremoz (1942), graduated in Economics from ISEG, was an economist at the Bank of Portugal for almost two decades – working in macroeconomics, monetary policy and relations with international organizations, and led the Public Finance Council since its creation. She previously headed the central bank’s Statistics and Economic Studies Department, and was a management consultant and administrator between 2008 and 2012. She was a consultant to BPI’s management and was a member of IGCP’s advisory board.
Teodora Cardoso has been one of the most important economists of recent decades. Independent, she was always very critical of the budgetary policies of recent years, both as president of the Public Finance Council, which she led between 2012 and 2019, and after she left. In a 2021 interview with ECO, Teodora Cardoso was particularly concerned about the evolution of the Portuguese economy. And she always looked at the need to reform the country’s fiscal policy. “My problem has never been the annual deficit. My problem is the budgetary framework. It’s a war I’ve been fighting for 30 years and it’s no use because I’m defeated. But I’m persistent. Our budgetary framework is like that. The budget policy for each year… for now it’s strictly annual and on a cash basis, what you don’t spend doesn’t matter. Expenditure or the appropriation is assessed, but expenditure is never assessed according to the result you want to achieve, and much less is it assessed afterwards whether or not it has been achieved,” the economist told ECO.
In 2019, in a joint interview with ECO and TVI, the economist reflected on the country’s public finance system, a theme that is always present in her analysis. “Restrictions are, to a large extent, postponements of expenditure, especially when they affect things that are really necessary, such as maintaining investment. So it’s not that way. What I’ve been saying for several years now is that you have to take a medium and long-term view of these things. You can’t just look at the budget on that basis”.
As Finance Minister, Mário Centeno was very critical of the Public Finance Council’s analyses, which were critical of the budgetary strategy followed. In that interview, however, he guaranteed that he was fine with the criticism. “I live with itperfectly. When we were created, at the time all the parties were against the Public Finance Council, because this notion of an independent body in Portugal doesn’t sound good. At the time, everyone was against us and everyone criticized us. A journalist asked me if I didn’t feel bad about it. I told him, and I still think the same, that I would feel much worse if everyone agreed with us.”