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Portugal to build 34 new health centres

Published on 19/10/2016

Portugal's Socialist government, which has rolled back its conservative predecessor's austerity policies, said Wednesday it will build 34 new public health centres across the country next year.

The majority of the new centres will be built from scratch and over half of them will be in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, Health Minister Adalberto Campos Fernandos told a parliamentary commission.

Each health centre will cost around one million euros ($1.1 million), he added.

“This will be the biggest wave of construction of health centres,” the minister said.

Since coming to power in 2015, the Socialists have reduced taxes for lower income earners and rolled back some austerity measures launched during the country’s 2011-2014 78-billion-euro bailout.

The Socialists took office after they teamed up with the Communists and the far-left Left Block to oust a centre-right administration.

The small leftist parties did not formally join the new government, but Prime Minister Antonio Costa relies on them for a majority in parliament to pass legislation — an unprecedented political arrangement in 40 years of Portuguese democracy.

The government’s draft budget for 2017 aims to increase pensions and cut income taxes while slashing the public deficit to 1.6 percent of economic output from this year’s estimated 2.4 percent.

It calls for a new sugar tax on soft drinks which is expected to raise 80 million euros that will go to the nation’s public health service.