Organic Refuse Trial ; Kidnapping Update ; Prison Strike Part 2 ; Jellyfish Still In Ribeira Brava

(18th July). Today’s main news headline : ‘People Won’t Pay For Useless Bureaucracy – The Government of the Republic counter attacks the criticisms from the public notaries of Madeira, made in the Diário. The minister of justice warns that there will not be people and companies guaranteeing the income of the notaries. And remember the requests of the GR for the introduction here of programs from the SIMPLEX regime, that have to eliminate the resource of the notaries offices’. The accusation made in the Diário several days ago claimed that the public notaries had been ‘screwed’ for want of a better word, having been promised work after moving from the public to the private sector. "Now more than ever, people and companies should stop paying for unnecessary bureaucracy in order to contribute to the generation of wealth, employment and jobs. Reducing the cost of bureaucracy is an investment in creating more employment and more productive employment, and the policy of simplification pursued by this government is a key instrument for that purpose" said a spokesman from the Ministry of Justice, in response to notaries complaining about a 75% drop in income. What is not justified is that "the activity of notaries, and hence their income, was based on a demand because people and businesses were required to use their services, without an option of choice and no other alternatives", and the response also adds that the notaries had opted for privatisation, and it was not forced on them. The Simplex programs simplify previously longwinded procedures, allowing citizens to do much more themselves, much more quickly, with much less cost, such a starting a business, property transactions, and matters of divorce and inheritance. It is the introduction of Simplex that has stripped away most of the need for the notaries. I reckon the spokesman from the Ministry of Justice needs to have a very very long chat with his opposite number in the Ministry of Finances / Treasury, as I don’t see any simplification or choices in the way that this country runs its tax affairs, from a taxpayers perspective that is, nor in social security for that matter.

‘Works On The Avenida: CMF Circumvents Embargo – Authority overcomes the injunction, the responsibility of a competitor, and the work continues’. The urban remodelling work on Avenida do Mar was challenged legally by a consortium of companies involved in the tendering process, and a court injunction was granted. The action was in response to the awarding of the contract to a company that that quoted a price perceived as ‘abnormally low’ (30% less than the base value). The work was ordered to stop by the court, but after careful consideration and a council resolution, the authorities ruled that work should continue on the grounds that stopping would cause ‘grave harm to the public interest’. The matter is now back with the courts to see if they accept the position adopted by the council. The work involves improvements along the Avenida do Mar, which include public toilets, and it was deliberately scheduled to be undertaken during the school holidays to minimise traffic and movement problems.  

The main picture today is a rather pointless photo of the Galp petrol station on Porto Santo, with the story covered yesterday now elevated to the front page : ‘Suspect Of Kidnapping Shocks P. Santo – The businessman from Porto Santo disappeared on Thursday in Funchal. The family received a ransom demand made by an individual with a Brazilian accent. The police investigate’. The kidnappers have demanded half a million Euros for the release of 78 year old Guilherme Bernardino Alves, seized after being lured to Funchal for a phoney business meeting. The police (PJ) admit to having suspects in a case that is fairly unique* to them. The kidnappers have made 3 calls so far, all around a minute in duration. Unofficially the Diário claims that another businessman from Porto Santo, with financial problems, was arrested and questioned, but later released. A police spokesman with 20 years experience, says that there have been less than 10 kidnappings in Portugal during that time, and that this is the first time for Madeira. I wonder if CSI Funchal are involved, as since the unit was established I have not heard a single mention of the unit.

In sport, just a clarification to yesterday’s headline : ‘Barreiros : IDRAM Already responded’. The front page has the same photo as yesterday, and the article says that the sports institute has already responded to the request for information to Funchal Council, so the ball is back in their court.

‘Jellyfish Return To Ribeira Brava Beach’. At least four swimmers were stung yesterday by jellyfish at the beach of Ribeira Brava. Around lunchtime the life guard hoisted the yellow flag to warn swimmers, something that the majority of people ignored, despite the reason quickly circulating by word of mouth.

‘New Collection In August’. Funchal Council is to start a new refuse collection in Imaculado Coração de Maria on 4th August, but this time it will be for organic waste. The move is a trial, and will be extended if successful. The collections will be made on Tuesdays and Fridays, but those who want to take part will need to purchase the appropriate container which will cost between €4.96 and €23.79, depending on the size required. Funchal has achieved a level of 24% for recycling, the highest in Portugal, and is feeling the financial benefits of doing so. Expecting people to separate out yet more refuse is a tall order in itself, but expecting them to ‘opt in’ and pay for a special container … doomed to failure as it is would be my guess. 

Prison Guards went back on strike yesterday, in the second part of two three day strikes. Further talks were held, mainly about retirement at age 60, but no agreement was reached. The strike, which affects all prisons in Portugal, had a 95% adhesion by prison guards in the first stage. Under existing agreements there is a minimum level of cover in the prisons, and inmates continue to be fed, exercised, given medical care, and have access to religious facilities.

Petrol goes down in price again on Monday. Petrol ’95’ will cost €1.18 a litre, two centythingies less than last week. Diesel has been reset by the government at €0.92, three cents down.

* I am expecting another visit from Trevor from the word police, and of course another telling off for criminal misuse of the English language.

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