“The Government will comply with the law, so we are currently working towards a solution”, said Ana Abrunhosa, at a hearing, at the Assembly of the Republic, in Lisbon.
The issue of reducing tolls came up through the voice of PSD deputy Cristóvão Norte, but was addressed by the other parliamentary groups that participated in the hearing, namely by PS, BE and PCP deputies.
"I have always been in favour of reducing tolls, but I also always argued that it had to be a gradual reduction, because the impacts are high", said the Minister for Territorial Cohesion.
In response to Cristóvão Norte, Ana Abrunhosa reiterated that the 50 percent reduction in tolls on ex-SCUT (roads at no cost to the user), proposed by the PSD and approved under the State Budget for 2021, was considered constitutional, so “the government has to comply with the law”.
Indicating that the measure was not foreseen in the Government's plans, the minister said that its application has “an extremely high financial consequence on the IP budget”, reinforcing that this was not foreseen neither in the budget of this company, nor in the budget of the Ministry Infrastructure and Housing, so “they now have to accommodate these impacts”.
The Government, in particular the Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing and the Ministry of Finance, with the support of the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion, is studying the process of implementing this measure.
“As soon as we consider it constitutional, we have to find a way to implement it”, stressed the holder of the Territorial Cohesion portfolio, explaining that the 50 percent reduction in tolls in the ex - SCUT also “implies complex contractual issues” with concessions, with whom it is necessary to “negotiate financial equilibrium”.
From the PS bench, deputy Hugo Costa underlined the importance of reducing tolls, especially for the interior territories, remembering that these fees in the former SCUT were applied by PSD, in defence of the user-pays principle.
Ana Abrunhosa also said that “Spain is going to increase tolls under the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR), so it is not quite liquid that the reduction of tolls is an international trend, on the contrary”. Even so, she considered, in Portugal it is necessary to continue to reduce tolls in the interior.
"Our goal is to try to reduce the tolls in the ex-SCUT roads and our main priority is the interior territories", she stressed.