February - Madeira floods

in News · 01-01-2011 00:00:00 · 0 Comments
February - Madeira floods

The biggest natural disaster to hit the Portuguese island region of Madeira would make headlines across the globe at the end of February, as thousands of people were uprooted from their homes and dozens killed in flash floods. Ahead of this catastrophe, news was mostly focussed on parliamentary wrangles and battles to prove to the rest of Europe that Portugal does in fact have a relatively stable economy when taking into consideration the widespread effects of the crisis.

A revolutionary proposal presented by three rogue front-benchers from the ruling Socialist Party caused a ripple effect that quickly transcended the walls of Parliament at the beginning of February.
A controversial law decree, which was intended to come into effect this past summer, would have seen the annual gross income of every taxpayer in Portugal posted on a massive public database that would have been available to anyone with access to the Internet.
But there were deep sighs of relief in offices across the country as it emerged a law making taxpayers’ earnings public had been unceremoniously quashed.
Under the proposal, presented by Strecht Ribeiro, Afonso Candal and Mota Andrade, the gross earnings of taxpayers would be posted on the Internet allowing fellow citizens the opportunity to scrutinise the authenticity of total earnings found in any single tax declaration.
Under the proposal, only final totals would have been included, and there would have been no public access as to where these earnings had been obtained.
A number of company directors contacted by The Portugal News, when details of this proposal first emerged, expressed concern at the implications it would have had on office environments across the country, with employees being placed in a position to demand similar or better earnings than co-workers.
The following week, figures emerged showing that despite the euro plummeting against the US dollar and stocks falling across the globe, Portuguese authorities united in condemning comparisons being made between Portugal’s current economic difficulties and the crisis which had befallen debt-ridden Greece.
The country has remained united since in rubbishing these comparisons, but unscrupulous speculators have continued their attack on Portugal.
“We don’t need anything from Brussels. We know exactly what we will do. We don’t need any help; we will solve our problems”, the Prime Minister said in February. Here’s hoping his words remain true into 2011.
Later that month, Portugal gained a temporary respite when figures showed the state of its finances to be far better than the image being portrayed by some analysts beyond its borders. Support for Lisbon’s view that its economy was firmly set on the path to full recovery had been backed up by figures released by Eurostat, the European Union’s official research agency, indicating Portugal outperformed its Eurozone partners during the final quarter of last year.
While the Portuguese economy reported a retraction of 0.8 percent for the final three months of 2009, it still managed to outdo the efforts of more illustrious economies which make up the 16-nation Eurozone bloc.
The remaining quarters of 2010 all showed the Portuguese economy to have grown in relation to the previous year.
The month drew to a close with tragedy in Madeira as the worst floods in memory claimed 42 lives.
In the wake of the disaster, authorities in Lisbon and Funchal admitted that one of their primary concerns was to recover the island’s image as an idyllic holiday resort. There were also suggestions at the time that Madeira had opted against declaring a state of emergency in an effort to show the outside world its authorities were in full control.
But this did not detract from the vivid images of suffering and torment that were shown across the globe as Madeira made headlines for all the wrong reasons.


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