Jornal da Madeira Referred To EU ; Gripe Fears Cancel Holidays ; Unemployment Hits All

(30th July). ‘CDU Repeats Artur In Funchal Council – The Unitary Coalition wants to move to two councillors and take Dírio Ramos to number 2 behind Artur Andrade’. I am clearly suffering with election boredom already, but it was on the front page, and I really cannot be bothered to read and translate an article involving a party of no-hopers … sorry.

‘Four Flags Take The Place Of Direct Political Speech’. The law does not allow political speeches when the elections are scheduled, and yesterday, at an inauguration in Câmara de Lobos, the President of our Government explained these rules to the people who joined him in the sun for the celebration and speeches. President Jardim still spoke of autonomy and freedom, but the people didn’t need to stretch themselves too much to know what he had in mind. Indeed, on the wall of the new road being inaugurated, there were placed 4 flags of the social democrats (PSD).

‘Regional Government Should Notify Brussels About Assistance To The Jornal da Madeira – Competition authority recommends “adopting principles that avoid distortion in competition”. The government here should inform the European Commission about the financial support being given from public funds, and urges the adoption of practices that will not conflict with the principles of competition with any future funding. The competition authority concluded that the use of public funds constitutes state aid for the newspaper. If in Brussels the funding is judged to be illegal, the money injected may have to be repaid. The amount given until the end of 2007 is assessed at €23.4 million. The regulator warned that future aid given to the media, would have to conform with several principles to avoid distortion of free competition.  This would mean an objective justification based on the likelihood and impact of failure of the recipient of the aid, ensuring that the financial support was proportional to the risk, and not discriminatory.

‘Lack Of Employment Hitting All Sectors Of Activity – USAM presented yesterday an overview of the labour-political situation on Madeira’. “There is no sector of activity that is not affected by lack of employment.” This is a review of the conclusions of the labour-political situation in the region in the first half of the year, presented yesterday morning in a press conference, by the Regional Council of Trade Unions of the Autonomous Region of Madeira (USAM). Worst hit are the hotel sector, and construction and trade. Concerns in the hotel sector are  particularly worrying, because the hotel bosses are getting rid of staff for any number of reasons, and in some cases expecting remaining staff to maintain the same level of productivity after colleagues have been dismissed, singling out the Savoy Hotel “which fired dozens of workers without good reason”. I would have said that demolishing the Savoy Hotel, with government backing, was a reasonable excuse for cutting back on staff.

Madeira’s richest man lost 30% of his fortune, falling from fourth to ninth place in the rich list of Portugal. Madeiran Joe Berardo, according to the magazine ‘Exame’, will now have to manage with just €618 million.

The cruise liners ‘Queen Victoria’, ‘Oriana’, ‘Boudicca’ and ‘Saga Ruby’, have already booked their places in Funchal for the next two New Year celebrations.

(29th/30th July). A late story yesterday : ‘Travel Agents Fear Alarmist Messages About Gripe A – Luciano Jardim says that concerns led to cancellations of trips in the last few weeks’. APVAT wants to reassure the travellers. “The Gripe A virus is present the world over, and it is not necessary to leave Madeira to catch H1N1”, that’s the message being given out by travel agents to counter negative messages passing amongst the public (it just about makes sense, but I suspect it got a bit mangled in the translation). It is younger couples with children who seem to be reacting more. I don’t think this has much to do with swine flu, more like concerns about travel agents losing money. How can you morally justify persuading someone it is just as safe to go abroad when the virus presence there might be much more prolific than here on Madeira? Good for our economy too if people spend their dosh here rather than abroad.

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