News in brief...News in brief...News in brief...
• According to a poll, two years after the governing coalition took office, a majority of people have a more negative opinion of Prime Minister Durão Barroso’s government than of the previous government, led by António Guterres. Meanwhile, Durão Barroso has promised more public investment, signalling a softening in budget policy after two years of austerity.
• Portugal will take steps to halve the nation’s high school dropout rate and double the number of vacancies in technical courses by 2010, in an effort to boost economic competitiveness.
• About 82 per cent of the Portuguese had modest savings or no opportunity to save money, while 55 per cent did not see any improvement in their economic state in 2001. Only five per cent of Portuguese made large purchases in 2001. The indebtedness of Portuguese families rose by 103 per cent in 2002, exceeding their family income.
• Euro 2004 will fall short of an ambitious target of selling 95 per cent of tickets for the 23-day tournament. With a little over two months to go before the big kick-off, more than a million tickets have been sold, but a lack of demand in some countries will prevent the tournament being a sell-out.
• The EC decided to open and/or pursue infringement proceedings against several Member States for failing to comply with Community environmental legislation, specifically a directive on the quality of fuels and a regulation on ozone-depleting substances. The proceedings concern Portugal, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy and Sweden.
• Most of Portugal’s museums and monuments were open to the public over Easter, despite a call by employees for a three-day strike. The work stoppage on Easter weekend has become a sort of annual ritual in Portugal, as employees demand better salaries and working conditions.
• The prevalence of Listeria contamination in Portuguese food has been determined. Of 1,035 samples seven per cent were positive for L. monocytogenes, the majority being from raw products (milk, meat, fish, flour), although some heat-processed or fermented foods were also positive, according to a government report.
• Civil aviation authorities announced the decision to rectify the contingency plans in place for the Euro 2004 tournament after communication faults were found during the course of a security drill at Lisbon’s international airport. Despite the ‘satisfactory’ results of the exercise, security around the international airport will still undergo a review and should be rectified before the end of April.
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