WYD: Lisbon City Council approves loan up to 15.3 million euros for works

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Proposal passed with “11 votes against, 35 abstentions, 25 votes in favor and six absent from the room”

The Lisbon City Council approved this Tuesday the proposal of the City Council to contract a medium and long term loan, up to 15.3 million euros, to finance investments in the scope of the World Youth Day.

This proposal was submitted to a nominal vote among the 75 municipal deputies, and was approved with “11 votes against, 35 abstentions, 25 votes in favor, and six absent from the room,” informed the president of the Lisbon Municipal Assembly, Rosário Farmhouse (PS).

By municipal groups, Chega, PEV, BE, Livre and PAN voted against, PS, PCP, Iniciativa Liberal (IL) and Cidadãos Por Lisboa (elected by the PS/Livre coalition) abstained, and the five parties that made up the “New Times” coalition, namely PSD, CDS-PP, MPT, PPM and Aliança, voted in favor.

At stake is “the contracting of a medium and long term loan, up to the amount of 15.3 million euros, with Caixa Geral de Depósitos”, to ensure the financing of investment in the scope of the World Youth Day (WYD), namely for the works in Parque Tejo (38 hectares), the cycle pedestrian bridge over the Trancão River (to be undertaken by the municipal company EMEL), the parking lot and the stage, interventions that are expected to remain for the future of the city.

According to the proposal, loans cannot “exceed the useful life of the respective investment, nor exceed the term of 20 years, having obtained information from the promoters of the interventions that they have a useful life of 20 years.

In the presentation of the proposal to the deputies, the deputy mayor of Lisbon, Filipe Anacoreta Correia (CDS-PP), said that the municipality “continues with a very reasonable debt ratio”, indicating that within the legal parameters is “about 30%” and that it has been reduced throughout this mandate, including the provisional figures of the closing of accounts for 2022 show that “lowered 22 million euros, about 7.2%.

Filipe Anacoreta Correia underlined that “it is not an investment in WYD, but in relation to WYD”, reinforcing that the event is an “incredible opportunity”, because it provides an investment that will stay for the future, namely Parque Tejo, which results from the rehabilitation of a former landfill.

The vice-president also said that, of the 35 million euros assumed by the municipality for WYD, if one removes the works that remain in the city, it will be “about 10 million euros the investment of the city council in the event itself.

Chega criticized the lack of transparency in the availability of projects and specifications for WYD and pointed out that the loan costs the municipality 6.5 million euros in interest, while the PEV reinforced that the promoter of the event is the WYD Foundation and pointed out the principle of secularity of the state.

“When a lot of public money is spent with more uncertainties than certainties, with no planning and, above all, with no notion of the environmental impact that an infrastructure like that may have, we can’t give carte blanche,” said Livre, referring to the stage-alt at Parque Tejo, a concern that was also expressed by the PAN about the future that the infrastructure will have.

Livre proposed to recommend to the City Council a sustainable use of the future Tagus-Trancão Intermunicipal Urban Park, including that the possibility of holding major events be subject to environmental assessment, but the proposal was rejected, with the votes against by PSD, IL, PPM, Aliança, CDS-PP and Chega, the abstention of PCP, PS, PAN and MPT, and the votes in favor of BE, Livre, PEV and Cidadãos Por Lisboa.

The PS abstention had already been announced last week, with the socialists questioning the usefulness and durability of some infrastructures planned for the event, stating that taking out a loan “is a clear political option of this executive”, which has the largest municipal budget for 2023, with 1.3 billion euros, besides having the highest IMT revenue, which is higher than IMI.

The PCP again asked for “rigor and transparency” in the organization of WYD and argued that investments should ensure the appropriate conditions for an event of this size, hoping that “the money will be used with common sense and in a balanced way.

“How can we explain that six months before the event we are discussing and reviewing stages whose values, more than hurting a few, shocked an entire country?”, questioned IL, lamenting the lack of information and the blame-shifting between the entities involved in the organization.

In favor of the proposal, the CDS-PP stressed the potential benefits of WYD and the return for the city, stating that if, when the choice of Lisbon to host the event was announced, there had been an explanation to the Portuguese, “surely today we wouldn’t have half the incomprehension of some”, criticizing the coordinator of the project group José Sá Fernandes for “shirking responsibility”, even because he knew the plans of the stage-altar.

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