"This program will be in effect during the period in which there was an increase in interest rates on housing loans and aims to reduce the possibility of default on credit obligations for permanent housing", justified the regional secretary of Finance, Planning and Public Administration, Duarte Freitas, during the reading of the statement from the Council of Government, in the city of Horta.

According to Freitas, this support, of an exceptional and temporary nature, will be available from 1 March for families who have taken out housing loans until 31 July 2022, up to a maximum value of 200,000 euros, and who have shown difficulty in meeting their contractual obligations.

"It was from that date that the European Central Bank began to raise rates, and therefore, from that date, no one can claim that they were unaware of the escalating rise in interest rates," Duarte Freitas justified.

According to data collected by the Government, the average value of a mortgage loan in the Azores is 254 euros, which means that Azorean families have experienced an increase of between 25% and 30% in interest rates in recent months.

The coalition executive (PSD, CDS-PP and PPM) has set the maximum value of this financial support at one million euros, and has already regulated the conditions of eligibility and the rules for access to CrediHab, as well as the rights and obligations of the parties, and the system of penalties in the event of non-compliance.

"The value that is here is the value that was approved in the budget documents, except for corrections that we will have to make throughout the year and also, naturally, the evolution that Euribor will have in the coming months," said the minister.

Duarte Freitas also explained that, although there is already national support to compensate families for the increase in interest rates on home loans, the Azores Government is aware that "the scale and diversity of the banking services market in the Azores limits the scope of national measures in the regional context", therefore the need to "complement this support".

CreditHab is aimed above all at borrowers who are, transitorily, "in a more fragile economic situation", and aims to support them in adapting to the new macroeconomic scenario, avoiding widespread defaults and knock-on effects, which could be considered "particularly adverse" in a small context, as is the case of the Azorean market.

The Azorean government has also decided to authorise the purchase of two harbour cranes with a minimum capacity of 100 tonnes for the ports of Ponta Delgada and Praia da Vitória, and a car crane with a capacity of 80/100 tonnes for the port of Horta, for an investment of up to 5.5 million euros.

This investment stems from the fact that the executive found that the port equipment located in the ports managed by the public company Portos dos Açores, S.A. were "obsolete" and were "in a state of use far beyond their useful life, as a result of the disinvestment made in recent years.

"This situation has caused enormous constraints and difficulties for companies that need to use port services, and it is urgent to equip those ports with essential equipment to carry out loading and unloading operations, both bulk and containers with greater reliability and fluidity," justifies the executive.