08 maio 2011

AS PALAVRAS DO FMI

Para quem ainda acredita na fábula que a crise nacional começou em 2008 ou que o pedido de ajuda externa só aconteceu porque a oposição chumbou o PEC IV, aconselho vivamente a leitura desta entrevista de Paul Thomsen, chefe da delegação do FMI na troika, ao IMF Survey online. Quem o fizer, a leitura não poderia ser mais clara: a prioridade das prioridades do pacote de assistência é, nas palavras do FMI, "atacar os problemas estruturais prolongados e profundos que fizeram com que Portugal tivesse a pior taxa de crescimento da Zona Euro na última década e o pior nível de desemprego de mais de uma década".
Por outras palavras, os problemas são estruturais e os nossos governantes foram simplesmente incapazes de saber como lidar adequadamente com a situação. Pelo contrário, ao promoverem um despesismo desmesurado e excessivo, os nossos governos agravaram ainda mais os nossos problemas, visto que à crise de competitividade juntou-se uma grave crise de finanças públicas, acelerando-se ainda a espiral de endividamento que se iniciou nos anos 90. E é por isso que, de acordo com o FMI, "the country could no longer shy away from doing the difficult things that are needed to build a better, more sustainable economic future." Ou seja, Portugal está mesmo na hora da verdade.
É igualmente muito interessante verificar que, para o FMI, a principal política proposta do plano de ajuda para ajudar a restaurar a competitividade das exportações portuguesas é a chamada desvalorização fiscal, na qual se diminuem as contribuições sociais pagas pelos empregadores (a taxa social única) em contrapartida por uma descida das despesas públicas uma pequena subida dos impostos ao consumo. O "Portugal na Hora da Verdade" descreve com grande pormenor como é que esta política poderia funcionar.
Entretanto, aqui fica um excerto alargado da entrevista do responsável do FMI. A entrevista completa pode ser lida aqui.

"IMF Survey online: What are the main objectives of the policy package agreed with Portugal?

Thomsen:
The government’s program is bold but realistic. It comprises basically a three-pronged strategy. The first priority is to tackle the longstanding and deep-rooted structural problems that have caused Portugal to have the lowest rate of growth in the euro area over the past decade and the highest level of unemployment in over a decade.The second priority is to strengthen fiscal policy. A carefully balanced mix of measures—amounting to about 10 percent of GDP, including those in the 2011 budget—will reduce the budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2013, and stabilize public debt. The third priority is to ensure the stability of the financial sector. We have included measures that will increase banks’ capital positions, strengthen regulation and supervision, and have introduced a new solvency support mechanism, which is fully financed under the program.

IMF Survey online: How did you balance these different goals?

Thomsen: When designing a program like this, it is important to avoid excessively fast fiscal consolidation and financial sector deleveraging. Going too fast would cause a large contraction in demand before the structural reforms that are aimed at boosting the economy’s growth potential begin to yield results. I believe the program strikes an appropriate balance between these two priorities. The financing package will give the government the breathing space needed to establish a strong record of policy implementation before having to return to the market, while undertaking the needed adjustment in a socially responsible way. This is going to be a tough program. But without the support of the international community, market realities would have forced a much faster and much more painful adjustment on Portugal and its people.
In addition, and importantly, the policy package is rich on measures to boost output and employment in a lasting manner. As these measures begin to take effect, Portugal should begin to see results. We think a recovery will get under way in the first half of 2013, provided the reforms are implemented as planned.

IMF Survey online: What are the main elements of the fiscal strategy?
 
Thomsen: The fiscal adjustment is strong and frontloaded. The deficit is coming down from 9.1 percent of GDP in 2010 to 3 percent of GDP already by 2013. This sharp reduction, at a time when the economy will be facing strong headwinds, requires measures of more than 10 percent of GDP. Undertaking such an adjustment in only three years is extremely ambitious by any standard. Half of the necessary adjustment has already been incorporated into the approved 2011 budget. The government has also identified all the measures needed to reduce the fiscal deficit to 3 percent by 2013. An ambitious program of fiscal policy reforms will help restore control over public sector spending. 
 
IMF Survey online: How will competitiveness be restored?
Thomsen:
Portugal’s problems are above all structural, as evidenced by the very low growth during the good years before the global crisis hit in 2008 and by record-high unemployment. In a nutshell, Portugal needs to become much more open to competition. This is the only way to create jobs and generate higher incomes. In this regard, I would highlight that the government is now considering what could be a dramatic “game changer” in the form of a sharp reduction in social security contributions in the order of 3–4 percent of GDP (offset by other appropriate tax and expenditure adjustments). This would reduce labor costs significantly and make goods produced in Portugal more competitive abroad. More generally, Portugal’s economic problems have been caused in large measure by a lack of competition in the nontradable sectors of the economy, such as electricity, transportation, and telecommunications. The program includes measures to increase competition and reduce excessive profits in these sectors. These changes will happen through regulatory reform and accelerated privatization.

IMF Survey online: Would it be right to say that this program is more balanced and less stringent than some others?

Thomsen:
Every country is different and there is no one-size-fits-all for the programs we support. In the case of Portugal’s program, as I said, there is no question that it is going to be tough. The country has deep-rooted problems that need to be tackled head on. So the program includes some difficult measures: following a 5 percent cut in public sector wages this year, wages and pensions will be frozen until 2013; civil service staff numbers will be reduced in both 2012 and 2013; all new public-private partnerships and large infrastructure projects are being suspended; and spending on state-owned enterprises, local and regional government, and defense are all being streamlined.
In the discussions we had with a wide range of people in Portugal, there was a strong sense that the country could no longer shy away from doing the difficult things that are needed to build a better, more sustainable economic future. And there is a feeling that now is the time. So let me be clear: there is no question that this is an ambitious, tough program. But equally important, it is also a realistic program and a fair one as well."

2 comentários:

skeptikos disse...

Um pequeno off topic. "Memorando da Troika" - Porque se trata afinal de um documento de enorme importância que ainda não foi disponibilizado aos portugueses em Português, aqui fica mais uma vez o serviço público de 1ª categoria disponibilizado pela blogosfera, através do blog AVENTAR: http://aventar.eu/2011/05/06/traducao-do-memorando-do-acordo-com-a-troika-fmi-bce-ce-concluida/#comment-40061

Freire de Andrade disse...

Mais uma vez, este blog permite ao público geral ter conhecimento de aspectos importantes que condicionarão as nossas vidas no próximo futuro. A opinião de Paul Thomsen é importante e parece baseada num conhecimento profundo dos nossos problemas. Atrevo-me a dizer: um conhecimento que tem faltado aos nossos decisores.