When TAP was privatised, 100% of the profits went to the private sector, and all of the risks went to the state, said former Planning Minister Pedro Marques in parliament on Tuesday.
At the time, the PSD/CDS government had ceased functions after parliament rejected its programme.
The former minister, who was called to the parliament at the request of the PSD, stressed that, in 2015, efforts were made to “quickly conclude” the privatisation of TAP before the new government took office.
He added that 61% of TAP was sold immediately, “giving the private sector the right to buy the remainder of the company within a short period of time”, taking over its entirety.
“The mistakes of the privatisation process were, however, huge, and the consequences for the Portuguese state and the national economy would have been tremendous if the process had not been changed,” he added.
Marques also noted that David Neeleman, one of the company’s private shareholders, never hid his project for TAP, which was similar to what he did with his previous companies – to increase their value and then sell them.
Also, on 12 November, as he recalled, a letter was signed which obliged the state to repurchase TAP if the private sector failed to make any payments to the bank.
The former minister said the competent authorities could classify this letter as state aid.
On the other hand, the private sector could have put the company into “unlimited” debt, and the state would have been obliged to buy the company back and assume all its responsibilities.
“I was amazed that the State Secretary for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications, who concluded the privatisation, the now vice-chairman of the PSD, Miguel Pinto Luz, said here […] that he did not sign any letter and that he does not even know what it is about,” he said.
He also said that the document in which Parpública asked for authorisation to send the letter to the banks is clearly signed by the secretary of state.
“Miguel Pinto Luz had only been in the government for 26 days, but this was the most important and serious action that he carried out,” he said.
Marques said that considering that the privatisation carried out by the PSD “was harmful” to the country, the socialist government was committed to negotiating with the private parties to change its conditions.
During his opening remarks, he also pointed out that the negotiations with the private shareholders were difficult, as the contract had left the state at a disadvantage.
“There was a very unbalanced privatisation contract for the state, but it was possible to conclude the negotiations successfully,” he pointed out.
(Pedro Emídio | Lusa.pt | edited by Nuno Simas)
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