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by Euro Reporter
2012-12-12 10:29:58
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Tourism key for jobs and exports says President of Portugal

The President of Portugal, Anibal Cavaco Silva, has highlighted the importance of tourism to the country’s jobs and exports on the occasion of the presentation of the UNWTO / World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Open Letter on Travel and Tourism which aims to rally support for tourism among world leaders (Lisbon, Portugal, 6 December 2012). Meeting UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, and WTTC President and CEO, David Scowsill, President Cavaco Silva recalled that tourism directly represents 9% of Portugal’s GDP and 8% of the workforce.   

“Tourism is very important for jobs and exports in Portugal,” said President Cavaco Silva, while highlighting the capacity the sector has in reducing poverty around the world and welcoming the work of the United Nations through UNWTO in this regard. The President said it was central to “support increasing mobility around the globe as this is critical not only to the tourism sector, but also to the wellbeing of people as the tourism sector is of growing importance to many countries. In these challenging times for many countries in Europe, tourism can be part of the solution not only for the jobs and the growth the sector generates directly, but also due to the immense linkages tourism has with many other sectors of the economy to which it brings extra demand,” said Mr. Rifai.  

WTTC President & CEO, David Scowsill, said “Few countries have a greater dependence on Travel & Tourism than Portugal. During 2012, our industry will sustain directly and indirectly almost 18% of all jobs and contribute 15% of Portugal's GDP. There is a large private sector committed to economic growth and job creation, which is committed to work with the government to stimulate further growth in these difficult economic times. The President understands the huge economic and social contribution that the industry makes to the Portuguese economy, and reflected this in his comments in our meeting.” Also attending the meeting were Mr. Pedro Costa Ferreira, President of the Portuguese Association of Travel Agents; Mr. Andre Jordan, President of the Andre Jordan Group, member of WTTC; Mr. Fernando Pinto, President of TAP Portugal, member of WTTC; Mr. Manuel Fernando Espirito Santo, President of Rioforte, member of WTTC.

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Tough times for pharmaceuticals in Portugal

The approval of new drugs has ground to a halt for 18 months and reimbursement decisions have been constricted for non-generics says the Portuguese pharmaceutical industry body, Apifarma. Price cuts and mounting debt in public hospitals are making access to essential medicines more difficult for patients and harming the industry, it warns. “The pharmaceutical market in Portugal has been affected by the policy of price erosion implemented by the Ministry of Health, with patients finding it difficult to access medicines. Pharmaceutical companies have seen debts at public hospitals mounting to over €1bn and payment taking almost 500 days in some cases,” Apifarma said in a statement.

But pharmacies complain that pharmaceutical companies and other suppliers get better conditions from the government, with pharmacists believing that it is they who are bearing the brunt of the recession, having to rely on bank loans to stay afloat and keep stocks available for patients.  The ongoing conflict between industry and pharmacies has led to suspended orders and failures in the supply chain. The National Association of Pharmacies has warned that 600 pharmacies could close down and uncertainty is also prompting some panic buying from large pharmacies concerned that the supply chain could collapse, as it has done in Greece. Both industry and pharmacies have now declared that shortages are very likely in November.

Apifarma signed a deal with the Ministry of Health to keep pharmaceutical expenditure to 1.22 per cent of GDP in 2011, as required by the Memorandum of Understanding agreed with international creditors when the bailout was negotiated. The industry body considers the goal of decreasing expenditure further ‘unrealistic and risky’ in terms of market supply and access to medicines for patients.

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Portugal delays implementing new cinema law

Portugal has again delayed putting into effect a new cinema law which would restart subsidy payments to its troubled film industry. Production in the Mediterranean country has ground to a halt as Portugal struggles through the economic crisis gripping southern Europe and the government has put all subsidies on hold. A new cinema law, approved this summer, would get the subsidy money flowing once again for the Portuguese audiovisual sector. But secretary of state for culture Jorge Barreto Xavier said the law will not be published as planned this week, meaning the implementation of the law could be further delayed.

Xavier, however, said he would go ahead with the opening of applications for subsidy aid for new film projects as planned early next year. Fears that the law would be further delayed sparked an online protest by Portugal's filmmakers. A number of the country's most prominent directors, including Manoel de Oliveira, Joao Botelho, Miguel Gomes and Teresa Villaverde signed a letter of protest, titled “Portuguese cinema blocked!” published on the official blog of the Portuguese film director's association blog.

The letter claims the Porto government lacks “the political will” to enforce “the law that it drafted.” Ironically, 2012 has been a banner year for Portuguese cinema. Gomes' Tabu won the Alfred Bauer Award and the international film critics FIPRESCI prize at the Berlin Film Festival, with Rafa from compatriot Joao Salaviza taking Berlin's Golden Bear for best short. And period drama The Lines of Wellington from Portuguese director Valeria Sarmiento made the competition cut at this year's Venice Film Festival.



        
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