SOCIAL WATCH E-NEWSLETTER - Issue 124 - March 29, 2013

Issue 124 - March 29, 2013
Social Watch Report 2013
Post 2015

Portugal: Development cooperation strategy and more social protection are needed

Since joining the Euro in 1999, Portugal has had the lowest growth in the Eurozone. Between 2001 and 2007 Portugal experienced only 1.1% average annual growth. The government deficit was -6.5% of GDP in 2005 and it was -3.1% in 2007. When the global financial crisis occurred, a drop in tax revenues and the money allocation to support commercial banks, led to further increases in the government deficit and in general gross debt. At 108.1% in 2011, Portugal had the third highest general government gross debt to GDP ratio in Europe (EU27), behind only Greece and Italy (Eurostat, 2012a). As debt continued to grow investors were unwilling to lend and in May 2011 Portugal was the third country to seek a ‘bailout’ from the EU-ECB-IMFtroika. The austerity measures accorded between the Portuguese Government andtroika, are responsible for major setbacks. Many basic economic and social rights that were guaranteed are now being either questioned or neglected. In this scenario, the development cooperation public policy that contributed significantly to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) also suffered a major negative shift.

The policy response to the 2008 financial crisis, was the implementation of a progressive stringent set of austerity measures: freezing of nearly all insurance benefits and pensions, reducing the pensions tax allowance, reduction in means-tested unemployment assistance, family benefit and social assistance, increase in standard VAT rate (from 20% to 23%) including increasing the VAT on natural gas and electricity to standard rate, increase in income tax rates and reductions of tax credits, public sector pay cuts (up to 10%), reductions in numbers of employees in central Government and across public administration generally.

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Africa: Raising resources to finance the post-2015 development agenda


The scale of resource needs for the post-2015 and sustainable development agendas, although yet to be fully quantified, provides a serious challenge for aligning expectations of an ambitious post-2015 agenda with the implementation of that agenda.  To bridge this gap, it is crucial that Africa, hitherto considered to be significantly dependent on external resources for financing its development, puts forward its vision of how the financing issue should be addressed.

With a view to contributing to this visioning, this synthesis draws on the reflections of civil society representatives and experts at the meetings on Development Finance and the Post 2015 Framework and the post-2015 Development Narrative organized by the Pan African Parliament, the United Nations Millennium Campaign-Africa, UNDP, ACORD, Christian Aid, Tax Justice Network - Africa and Third World Network- Africa, with the participation of UNECA and the African Union in Johannesburg, South Africa on 24-25 February 2013.

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Structural transformation in the African context: reflections on priorities for the post-2015 development agenda


African thinkers, parliamentarians and civil society organisations who gathered in Midrand, South Africa, hosted by the Pan African Parliament, articulated what is emerging as a growing consensus in various fora taking place on the continent: ‘the building blocks of development’ have to be front and centre in the post-2015 discussions; and the imperative to underpin a developmental/structural transformation has to inform the approach taken to governance (developmental governance), financing and the global developmental partnerships, as well as the socio-economic development goals and targets.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) agenda helped to focus the world’s attention on the importance of explicitly concentrating on and channelling resources to poverty reduction and various dimensions of social development. In Africa, this was against the backdrop of structural adjustment and ‘development as usual’ policies which had not only failed to deliver human development outcomes, but also resulted in reversals in a number of countries.

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