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Portuguese report Portuguese report
by Euro Reporter
2012-03-30 09:54:12
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Changes in Portuguese motorways

Auto Europe's strong commitment to providing the best service to our clients also means making our best to keep them informed of any changes in legislation that may impact their holidays. If you're thinking about booking a car hire in Portugal, it's important to be aware of the recent changes to toll roads. There are currently two types of motorways in Portugal where tolls apply. In most of these, you'll be able to pay the toll fee in the existing toll booths when exiting the motorway. Some suppliers may provide a Via Verde device upon request, which will allow you to pass toll booths without stopping to pay. However, unless you are planning to stay in the country for a long period of time, it may not be worth paying the extra fee.

Not all toll roads have toll booths, however. Up until recently, the use of some motorways (SCUTs) was free of charge and, as such, they don't possess toll booths. Whenever a vehicle uses these roads, a system of overhead gantries registers the license plates and the driver must then pay the fee. There are only six motorways where this system is used: the A22 (Algarve), the A23 (Torres Novas-Guarda), the A24 (Viseu-Chaves), the A25 (Vilar Formoso-Aveiro), the A28 (Porto-Vilar de Mouros) and the A29 (Porto-Aveiro). You can pay these fees in one of two ways. You can lease an electronic device from a post office or motorway service station for the duration of your stay, and either preload it with a fixed amount or have the toll directly charged to your bank account.

If you would rather not have to lease this device, you can choose to pay the toll manually. Drivers have five days to pay these fees, which can be paid either in "PayShop" stores or at the post office (CTT). In order to make the payment, you will need to know the vehicle's registration number. Also, be aware that an administration fee will be added to the amount due and that you cannot pay the fee on the same day you make the journey. Auto Europe has been providing car hire services for over 50 years and we strive to offer the best quality of service at over 8,000 locations worldwide, always at the best prices. Whether you wish to book a car, we have what you need.


Portugal gets nod to sell bank

The Portuguese unit of Angola's Banco BIC will buy nationalised lender Banco Portugues de Negocios (BPN) on Friday after the European Union approved the Portuguese bank's restructuring, opening the way for completion of the agreed deal. Portuguese authorities took control of BPN in 2008 after a criminal investigation into fraud and money laundering, which preceded the global financial crisis. Finding a buyer for the troubled bank was among the terms of Portugal's 78 billion euro ($103.9 billion) bailout agreed with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund last year.

“Following the favourable (EU) decision, the government informs that on Friday, March 30, the contract of acquisition of BPN between the Portuguese state and Banco BIC will be signed,” the Portuguese finance ministry said after the EU cleared BPN's restructuring on Tuesday. Last year, the government picked a 40 million euro ($53.3 million) bid by the local unit of Banco BIC for BPN - only a tiny fraction of the more than 2 billion Euros the state spent to recapitalise the bank. The finance ministry said the sale of BPN would help the stability of the Portuguese financial system, safeguard the interests of depositors and keep a significant number of jobs.

The European Commission said BPN's restructuring approval includes a ban on acquisitions and dividends by the bank and would ensure that it would not have an unfair advantage over rivals as a result of its state bailout. The European Union executive said Portugal also promised to set a limit on BPN's Core Tier 1 capital and modify the liquidity lines requested by Banco BIC Portugal that are to be granted by state-owned Caixa Geral de Depositos. BNP will also be barred from exercising call option rights related to subordinated bond holders until the end of 2016. Portugal's banks in general have become overly dependent on European Central Bank funding after being squeezed out of the interbank market as lenders grew distrustful of banks in countries at the centre of the euro zone debt crisis. They have been selling assets to improve capital ratios.


Town halls face default amid $12-bn debt

Portugal’s town halls face default amid 9 billion Euros ($12 billion) of debt unless the government provides aid soon, said Fernando Ruas, president of the nation’s association of municipalities. “At a company we call it insolvency,” Ruas said in a telephone interview from Lisbon on March 21. “It could happen that some town halls could have to restructure their debt if the government doesn’t intervene.”

Ruas blamed a decline in money transfers from the government in Lisbon to municipalities for their growing financial woes. Portugal last year became the third euro-area country to request external aid, following Greece and Ireland. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho is cutting spending and raising taxes to meet the terms of the 78 billion-euro rescue. “A sharp decrease in money transfers has made it harder for many town halls to comply with their ongoing commitments,” said Ruas. His association estimates town halls face about 9 billion Euros in liabilities. About 1.5 billion Euros of the total is in bills to suppliers overdue by more than 90 days while the remainder is mostly made up of debt to banks, he said.

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