We live a period of fascinating transformation. The number of people living in extreme poverty declined abruptly in the last decades. Income inequality among countries is much lower. For the first time in the history of Humanity more people live in cities than in rural areas. Children have better access to education. The IT revolution transformed our lives. Climate change is a generational challenge, however we know that it can be avoided. Electricity can be produced from renewable energies at a lower cost than with traditional technologies and electric transport is not a dream anymore. The COVID vaccine has been discovered in just a few months. At the same time, the economic and political balance of power changed in a way and with a speed that nobody anticipated.
Why did I accept to serve as a Minister given that I am not a politician, have no political ambitions and am not, nor have ever been, affiliated to a political party?
Because I believed, and continue to do so, that my country can definitely do much better with no need for radical change.
In Portugal, there are highly skilled professionals in many areas, managers, engineers, doctors, architects, etc.,
However the vast majority is totally divorced from politics. They are fully aware that an outsider accepting a political job entails tremendous risks.
I believe that I am a living proof of this and must admit that I was wrong in having accepted a political job.
Portugal is seen as a world leader in renewal energies and I believe that this success could eventually be replicated in other areas.
In practical terms, Portugal is lagging behind and its distance to the EU average in terms of income per capita is increasing, instead of declining. This shows that large transfers from the EU equivalent to 2.5% of GDP year after year is not enough for the economy to grow above the average of EU countries.
There are many reasons behind this, however 2 of them probably stand out.
Firstly, the investment rate is abnormally low, i.e companies, households and the government invest much less than in other countries. The result of low investment year after year is an alarmingly low stock of capital per worker. It is no surprise that productivity (output per worker) is so low.
Secondly, virtually all of the best companies (in energy, banking, telecom, construction, cement, were sold to foreign investors.
All together, this shows that the country as a whole does not care about its future.