Açoriano Oriental
Draft Plan foresees 733.7 million in investment

Annual Regional Plan foresees 14% increase in investment next year. Regional Government says the priority is compliance with the Recovery and Resilience Plan

Draft Plan foresees 733.7 million in investment

Autor: Paula Gouveia

The preliminary draft of the Regional Plan for 2024 provides for investments worth a total of
733,718,137 euros, with the implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) as a priority, the Regional Secretary for Finance, Planning and Public Administration, Duarte Freitas, announced.

The document foresees a 14% increase in investment (an increase of around 90 million euros) compared to 2023.

At a press conference, Duarte Freitas said that reinforcements are planned for social economy (from 77.6 million to 100.5 million euros), rural economy (from 57.1 to 64.9 million euros), sea economy (from 33.8 to 43 million euros) and tourism promotion, which will increase from 9.5 million to 14.1 million euros.

The document also includes the doubling of the Credithab program budget (to support the payment of housing loans), which will be allocated two million euros for implementation in 2024, in order to respond "to more people, because the rise in interest rates is expected to continue in 2024".

The Freguesias Fund - a proposal which is currently under analysis in the parliament -, worth four million euros, will strengthen the Azorean government's cooperation with local authorities, Freitas said.

In terms of budget, Health and Education will receive an extra 18.5 million euros. In terms of budgeted income and expenditure, the Regional Government expects to collect 969.6 million euros in own income, while operating expenses are budgeted at 961.1 million euros, which will increase by 8% compared to 2023.

"We are expecting growth in tax revenue, especially VAT, revenue from the state budget due to compliance with the Autonomous Regions Finance Law (growth in national public spending influences transfers), and growth in EU transfers," explained Duarte Freitas.

According to the Regional Secretary for Finance, Planning and Public Administration, the preliminary draft of the Annual Regional Plan for 2024 and the preliminary report on next year's budget have already been sent to the Azorean Economic Council (CESA) and the island councils, "meeting the deadlines", and these entities have 20 days to issue an opinion.

These documents "are aimed at stability", Freitas told reporters. They result from the hearings held with social partners and political parties, as well as from the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed with social partners, he explained. Also, "the RRP is now starting at cruising speed, and the years 2024 and 2025 will be crucial if the region and the country are not to  fail meeting the ambition of the RRP's targets".

In order to ensure consistency, the documents maintain the Azores Tariff, the tax differential, the end of apportionments in agriculture and, among other measures, the "New Elderly" program.

The Regional Government hopes to have the documents approved by the Government Council at the end of October, so that it can be submitted to the Azorean parliament in November.

When asked what his expectations were regarding the document’s approval by the members of parliament, Duarte Freitas replied that "we are fulfilling what was designed, we are entering the last year of the legislature, following the medium-term guidelines of the government's program, but also inspired by the strategic partnership agreement and with the main objective of fulfilling the RRP. It would be disastrous if we did not have the conditions to implement the RRP, which is why these documents were designed with various sectoral objectives, but with the crucial and institutional objective of Portugal, the Azores and the European Union, which is to comply with the RRP," Freitas warned.

No debt foreseen in 2024

"We do not foresee any indebtedness," said the Regional Secretary for Finance, Planning and Public Administration, speaking to journalists.
"At the moment, we are considering various proposals regarding the State Budget, and we do not know if there will be a cut in tax revenue or an increase in personnel costs," he noted, explaining that, "the information we have now allows us to draw up a proposal for a Plan without debt" and that if nothing changes, "this will be the case".

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