Portugal PM-elect eyes media privatization: report

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 07, 2011 3:08 AM
Portugal PM-elect eyes media privatization: report

PARIS (Reuters) - Portugal's Prime Minister-elect Pedro Passos Coelho said in an interview published on Tuesday that his economic plans include pursuing privatizations in the media sector and creating an independent budget authority.

Passos Coelho told the French daily Les Echos that Portugal could only hope to achieve healthy growth once it fulfills the terms of its 78-billion-euro bailout and he pledged transparency in pushing through austerity measures and structural reforms.

"I hope that our actions, rather than words, will differentiate us from Greece," the center-right Social Democrats (PSD) leader said. The PSD won Sunday's election as Greece was negotiating a new financial rescue to avoid defaulting on its debt.

"We must be more ambitious in terms of privatizations, in public media for example. We need new rules for social security, education and justice. We are very ambitious about these structural reforms, much more than what is laid out in the (bailout) agreement," Passos Coelho said.

Portugal became the third euro zone country to seek a bailout after the Socialist government collapsed in March in a row over austerity, sending the country's borrowing costs sharply higher.

After his election victory, Passos Coelho told Reuters on Monday that he was "absolutely" committed to the terms of a 78-billion-euro ($114.2 billion) bailout and may pursue austerity measures beyond those required by the pact.

He told Les Echos he planned to lower labor costs, especially for exporting companies, as a way to boost competitiveness and lift exports. He said a new and independent budgetary institution would be powerful enough to provide complete transparency on public finances.

"We need to surprise in a good way," he said.

Conditions for Portugal's bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund include austerity measures such as big tax rises and deep spending cuts, with quarterly benchmarks.

(Reporting by Catherine Bremer; editing by Patrick Graham)