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The macroeconomic scenario in the Draft Budgetary Plan for 2015 is more optimistic than the projections under the Commission 2014 autumn forecast.
The Commission 2014 autumn forecast foresees a general government deficit of 3.3% of GDP in 2015, markedly higher than in the Draft Budgetary Plan. The discrepancy is to a large extent due to different assumptions about revenue growth (mainly of indirect taxes and social contributions).
Some of the measures included in the Draft Budgetary Plan may underperform or are deemed to have significant implementation risks, since they have repeatedly failed to become operational or materialise in time in the past.
The headline deficit planned in the Draft Budgetary Plan for 2014 is at 4.8% of GDP, above the 4% of GDP deficit target recommended by the Council in June 2013. For 2015, the Draft Budgetary Plan foresees to correct the excessive deficit by 2015 as recommended by the Council. At the same time, the Draft Budgetary Plan targets a headline deficit of 2.7% of GDP, which is also above the 2.5% of GDP deficit recommended by the Council. In light of the 4.9% of GDP general government deficit projected for 2014 in the Commission 2014 autumn forecast, Portugal is seen to miss the 4.0% of GDP target recommended by the Council.
Overall, it appears that the fiscal effort in 2013-2014 has not been delivered.
The headline deficit planned in the Draft Budgetary Plan for 2014 and 2015 is, at 4.8% of GDP and 2.7% of GDP, above the 4% of GDP and 2.5% of GDP respective deficit targets recommended by the Council in June 2013. Based on the Commission forecast, the headline deficit is expected to reach 4.9% of GDP in 2014 and 3.3% of GDP in 2015, indicating substantial risks to a timely correction of the excessive deficit by 2015, as recommended by the Council.
The required careful analysis also indicates that the recommended fiscal effort (annual and cumulated over 2013-2015) is not projected to be met. Overall, the timely correction of the excessive deficit by 2015 is at risk, mostly due to the inadequate fiscal effort in 2014 and projected for 2015.
In addition, the information provided suggests that only modest progress has been made in most structural reform areas.
The Plan's macroeconomic scenario for 2015 is more optimistic than the Commission 2014 autumn forecast.
Regarding 2015, the Commission projects a general government deficit of 3.3% of GDP, significantly higher than the target in the Draft Budgetary Plan. The discrepancy is to a large extent due to a more cautious assessment of the impact on the budget of macro-economic developments, the fight against fraud and of the yields from certain measures of the consolidation package.
In light of the 4.9% of GDP deficit projected for 2014 in the Commission autumn forecast, Portugal is seen to miss the headline target recommended by the Council.
Based on an overall assessment of the Draft Budgetary Plan, compliance by Portugal with the Excessive Deficit Procedure recommendation is at risk.
Overall, the Commission is of the opinion that the Draft Budgetary Plan of Portugal, which is currently under the corrective arm, is at risk of non-compliance with the provisions of the Stability and Growth Pact. In particular, there is a risk that the Draft Budgetary Plan for 2015 will not fulfil the Council recommendation of correcting the excessive deficit by 2015. This risk mainly arises from favourable assumptions of the impact on the budget of macroeconomic developments and from the lack of structural measures underpinning the Plan. The fiscal effort falls clearly short of the recommendation, even taking into account the impact of methodological and statistical revisions, and thus indicates the need for additional structural consolidation measures for 2015 to underpin a credible and sustainable correction of the excessive deficit. The Commission therefore invites the authorities to take the necessary measures within the national budgetary process to ensure that the 2015 budget will be compliant with the Stability and Growth Pact. The Commission is also of the opinion that Portugal has made limited progress with regard to the structural part of the recommendations issued by the Council in the context of the 2014 European Semester and thus invites the authorities to accelerate implementation.
In 2014, Portugal achieved a headline deficit of 4.5% of GDP, which was above the recommended target of 4% of GDP. The fiscal effort indicators also point to a shortfall in the structural effort, based on the change in both the unadjusted and adjusted structural balance in 2014 and in cumulative terms over 2013-2014, as well as on the permanent consolidation measures taken under the programme and thereafter.
The fiscal effort is below what is recommended by the Council based on the change in both the unadjusted and adjusted structural balance in 2015, as well as in cumulative terms over 2013-2015.
According to the Commission spring forecast there appears to be a risk of a significant deviation from the required adjustment towards the medium-term objective in 2016.
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