The Minister of Infrastructure Pedro Nuno Santos, who is being heard this Tuesday in the Assembly of the Republic, in the parliamentary committee for Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Innovation, revealed that the conditions proposed by the State to help TAP were failed yesterday, June 29, at a meeting of the carrier's board of directors.
The proposal was approved by the six administrators who represent the state, but the other six administrators who represent the Atlantic Gateway consortium abstained, explained Pedro Nuno Santos in response to the deputy of the Bloco de Esquerda, Isabel Pires.
As he needed the approval of eight administrators, the proposal was unsuccessful, he said. "That must be what justifies the news that is coming out today", about the nationalization of TAP, said the minister, referring to the news advanced by Expresso this morning.
Pedro Nuno Santos explained that the Government is still going to “submit the proposal to the private partner and that he expects it to be accepted”. If not, the alternative is to "agree a way out" that "brings peace to TAP and ensures that there are no future disputes".
“We will make a more assertive intervention by the State (at TAP) if the private sector continues to not accept” the State's proposal to inject 1200 million euros into TAP. Then the private shareholder "will have every right to defend his position," said Pedro Nuno Santos, without elaborating further.
Asked about Isabel Pires about "the ironclad" between the private and the state in the emergency loan negotiations, the minister said that this expression "shows an image of balance that is not true".
The difficulty in the negotiations "results only from the uncompromising attitude in the defense of the public interest, otherwise there would be no arm here", he added. "We will not give in to negotiations with the private sector, we do not call it an iron arm, we call it uncompromising defense of the interests of the State", he said.
Pedro Nuno Santos stressed that the proposals presented by the State have associated "reasonable and balanced conditions" – "we are available to save a company of the utmost importance to us", but for that it is necessary to "ensure minimum conditions".
Among them, the conversion of private credit over the company into capital and control over the money injected into TAP.
Regarding the statements by the executive president of TAP, the availability of the private sector to accept a representative of the State in the executive committee of the company, the minister said that “it is at least ridiculous” that those who “asked for 1500 million euros” make this type of statement.
“It is the kind of statements that cause us bewilderment and shock. The Portuguese State did not ask for anybody's place, nor did it have to, because what is being prepared is an intervention of 1200 million ”, he stressed.
Too important to fall
The minister acknowledged that, being the country in economic difficulties, with several “underfunded areas”, it is normal for the Portuguese to react “with concern” to the injection of 1200 million in the company and stressed that “it would be a disaster, from an economic and the country loses TAP ”.
The carrier's contribution to the national economy goes “far beyond” the company's 10,000 workers, the taxes it pays (300 million euros) and the suppliers it feeds (1300 million). The importance is measured by all other jobs that depend on the tourism sector and all companies that depend on the tourism sector and that pay imposed contributions, he exemplified.
"TAP is too important for the country to drop", underlined the minister. TAP has to "respond to market needs and national needs" in connection with countries with historical relations, with emigrant communities and with relevant economic relations. "This is only done when we have influence and that is why intervention is so important for us," said the government official.
In response to Cristóvão Norte, of the PSD, who argued that the decision by Brussels to demand that emergency aid to TAP be granted under a loan with the mandatory restructuring plan could not be different after the statements of the minister.
Pedro Nuno Santos “demonized TAP, devastated management and said it was a bankrupt company”, said the PSD deputy. "This will be paid for with a smaller company, with less route and fleet and with many redundancies", said the Social Democrat deputy.
The minister replied that the Government limited itself to "a path that was the only one that was available in view of the assessment that the Commission made of TAP", because "TAP was a company in difficulty on 31 December 2019" and therefore he would always have to stay out of the temporary aid framework motivated by the covid-19.
Even if it had been covered by this exceptional regime, TAP would always have to be restructured, as is the case with all carriers that will receive public funds.
The aim of the restructuring plan is not to create “a Tapezinha”, but to “leave TAP in conditions of future viability”, said the minister.
"For us it is important that TAP does not pass a certain level that makes it incapable of meeting national needs, but it is obvious that there will have to be adjustment," he said, admitting that the restructuring is already underway, with hundreds of forward contracts and negotiation with leasing companies.