Portuguese Government Resists Disclosing Key Study

7 March 2013

The Portuguese government has refused to release a study about a controversial policy proposal.

Defying a recommendation for disclosure from the Commission on Access to Administrative Documents (CADA), the government has relied on another legal standard to keep the study confidential.

The government is basing its refusal on Section 11.1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Council of Ministers, saying the study is a supporting document that should remain confidential because the legislation, although not passed last year, could be revived.

The Council statute is subordinate to the law on access to information, the Administrative Code and the Constitution, according to Luís Bernardo, a member of Transparência e Integridade, the Portuguese contact point of Transparency International. Moreover, the statute does not provide for the confidentiality of preliminary studies.

The disputed study concerns the potential impact of a proposed change in social security contributions by employers and employees. Under the new regime, employees would see their contributions rise and employers would see their contributions fall to the same extent.

 The proposal, while being touted as a benefit to the economy, sparked major demonstrations Sept. 15, 2012, and has not been approved.

CADA in January issued its opinion (in Portuguese) supporting release of the study.

A request (in Portuguese) for the study by members of Parliament, made more than six months ago, has not been answered by the Ministry of Finance.

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