Chega announced this Friday that it will propose a total ban on participation by government officials in companies that do business with the State, after the Constitutional Court ruled against the party in three complaints of alleged incompatibilities.
At issue were the appearances of Chega at the Constitutional Court (TC), made in October last year, regarding the Minister of Health, Manuel Pizarro, the former Minister of Infrastructure Pedro Nuno Santos and the Secretary of State for Nature Conservation and Forests , João Paulo Catarino.
In a press conference, the deputy and president of Chega, André Ventura, announced that the party was notified of the opinions of the Public Prosecution Service with the TC, which in no case gave him reason, and considered that the judges made a “restrictive interpretation” of the law that regulates the exercise of functions by holders of political offices and high public offices.
“The TC considers, in a decision that will become jurisprudence unless we manage to change the law, that ministers can hold shareholdings, directly or indirectly, (in companies that do business with the State) provided that the areas with which they do business are not of its governmental tutelage”, he pointed out.
According to Ventura, this was the basis for the decision so that the Court did not consider that there were incompatibilities in the shareholdings in companies owned by Pedro Nuno Santos and João Paulo Catarino.
In the case of the Minister of Health, Manuel Pizarro, the opinion of the Public Ministry understood, according to Ventura, that there was an incompatibility, but that it has already been remedied, not giving rise to any sanction, which could be dismissal.
“For us, it is a legal defeat, but we are not going to appeal the decision, the solution is to change the law in parliament”, said Ventura.
Proposal to change the law is based on two points
Despite the fact that this Friday parliament was discussing precisely changes to the regime for public office holders, and with a proposal from Chega in the context of sanctions, Ventura defended that these decisions by the Public Ministry will justify a new proposal to change the law, in two points .
“One of the amendments that we will propose will be that the rulers have to remedy irregularities before taking office as ministers and that they cannot do it afterwards”, he explained.
Secondly, “the ban on ministers and secretaries of State holding shares in companies that negotiate with the State, regardless of the area they oversee”.
“Ministers and Secretaries of State cannot have any participation in companies that do business with the State”, he summarized.
The president of Chega considered that the law would already be clear in this prohibition, but given this “restrictive interpretation” of the Court – which follows a previous opinion of the Advisory Council of the Attorney General of the Republic –, he defended the need to clarify it to avoid “promiscuities and Dangerous Liaisons” in the Government.
Asked about another complaint made by Chega, regarding the Minister of Territorial Cohesion Ana Abrunhosa, André Ventura said that the party has only received, so far, the three notifications that this Friday released.
In the opinions that Chega released to the media regarding Pedro Nuno Santos and João Paulo Catarino, it is mentioned that “there is no situation of legal impediment”, since the shareholdings of the rulers are not in companies linked to the areas that protect.
In the opinion of Manuel Pizarro, it is noted in the opinion that there was a situation of legal incompatibility, but that it was remedied by himself, “making any sanction impossible” on the part of the TC.
In October last year, and following news of alleged violations of the incompatibilities regime by several rulers, the executive defended that the law was being “fully complied with”, considering that reflection on this regime is up to parliament.
At that time, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, asked parliament to review the legal regime on the incompatibilities and impediments of holders of political offices, if the Assembly of the Republic “considers such reflection relevant and necessary”.
“In fact, the complex legislative tangle has raised wide controversy in Portuguese society, in an essential matter for citizens’ trust in institutions, which results from a constitutional imposition, doubts that have even been expressed by the Advisory Council of the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic”, says a note published on the website of the Presidency of the Republic on 12 October.