The Municipal Executive approved the 2020 Accounting Report. Rui Moreira highlighted that, in a context of an unprecedented pandemic, “budget implementation was probably the best ever”, and taking into account that it reached 79. 8%. As regards social housing, the figures are irrefutable even: the execution rate of total expenditure, “at 100 %”.
Discussion and approval of the report was not lengthened. The political appreciation by the Opposition presented some critical comments, but the Municipality of Porto, accomplished one deed, which was not available to the majority of other City Halls in the country: an expenditure execution rate of 80 %.
The municipal director of finances and patrimony of Porto City Hall provided the technical framework. Pedro Santos highlighted that in a year that has been hard hit by the pandemic, “the revenue execution rate was 113.4 %, and the expenditure execution rate was 79. 8 %. Fiscal revenues represented a decline of 30, 7 million euros and the investment allowance was 70 .4 million euros”, he noted. Regarding the average payment period to suppliers, it was ten days.
According to the three strategic goals that were identified as the structuring pillars of the municipal budget – Social Cohesion and Action, Economy and Development, and Culture – The municipal director of finances and patrimony clarified that as regards the first pillar, despite the fact that it declined 1% in the execution rate, when compared to 2019 (a variation of less than 300 thousand euros implemented in the expenditure), it has “increased its share in the budget in 11 .9 %”.
As regards the other two pillars, Pedro Santos highlighted some positive notes, namely the high level of budget implementation by the pillar of Economy and Social Development, with a positive variation higher than 80%, compared to 2019 (also the weight of this pillar in the structure represented more than 5%, approximately). The increase in Culture (with over 5 .8% in the size of the budget), resulted in an execution rate higher than 13.9 %, in 2020, when compared with the previous year.
Pedro Santos also referred that there has been a decrease in the size of the structure of the City Hall in the accounts. “These values represent less than 50%”, enhanced the director, recalling that, “these values have been higher than 50%”, and only during this last assessment, the variation was less than 8 percentage points.”
“Today we can devise a strategy with a higher risk margin”
The Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, responding to the Opposition parties, recalled that the measures proposed by the Independent majority, which he leads, as well as the measures by the Opposition were accommodated in the budget, apart from some exceptions. “It comes to my mind that we did not agree with the Socialist Party, to replace the Government and the Ministry of Education as regards the buying of tablets or computers to children in schools, despite the fact that we were involved in that via the school social action”, Rui Moreira said, and added that “this is a promise that still is, as I see it, unfulfilled, and it is mitigated by the fact that children are now able to have in-person classes”.
In turn, the Mayor said that every time that the City Hall would take the lead, the Central Government would put the brakes on. “We did what we should do. We have adopted a set of measures, many of which did not have a meaningful expression, but via the policies we have pursued, I think we have been equal to the challenges, and we have done nothing more because the Central Government did not want us to do it. There are several examples, the Field Hospital, which they said was no longer needed, or for instance, at present, our Vaccination Centre, which is ready to operate”, recalled Rui Moreira.
Considering that the impact of revenue during the pandemic was not the one that was cautiously estimated, the Mayor of Porto deems that this is “the moment to see how to boost the economy”. “Today we have a more measurable factor on how the revenue shall conduct and, therefore, we can devise a strategy with some kind of risk”, stated Rui Moreira.
In that regard, Rui Moreira urged the entire Opposition to be involved. “I would like that this would be worked in collaboration, between us, so that it would not be considered an electoral strategy”, the Mayor declared and furthered that “now is the time to think about assets and not liabilities”, but there is a need to think things thorough fully to “prevent that a good thing is understood as a bad thing”.
Regarding the assessment of the Reporting of Accounts and fully understanding some of the critical comments by the Opposition, and also taking them with fair play, Rui Moreira considered that “looking back, many works were interrupted, and still the budget implementation was the best ever. As regards social housing, it was the best ever”, he enhanced.
Social Cohesion, Economy and Culture strengthen their share in the budget implementation
As regards the social support, there is a highlight, in 2020, to the strengthening of meal supply to the homeless, the intervention in over ten neighbourhoods of rent support, an investment of circa 20 million euros in more than 300 empty dwellings that were rehabilitated, the assignment of houses to 201 vulnerable families, the support to associations and the increase of 1. 32 million euros to the Porto Solidário programme.
In the economic sector, Rui Moreira enhances “the mastery of not disregarding the work of promoting and attracting investment to the city of Porto. There was the “Porto de Tradição” programme and the support to the historic traders in the city via the support line “Revitaliza Porto”, where over one dozen companies received support by Porto City Hall.
Regarding Culture, which was allocated an investment of more than 13 million euros, in the year 2020 there was “the establishment and the presentation of the artistic and multifaceted Museu da Cidade, and the undertaking of an historic edition of Porto Book Fair”, with over 100 thousand visitors. The so called foot hold projects of the Municipal Executive, namely the Matadouro, the Bolhão Market, the Terminal Intermodal de Campanhã and the Batalha – Centro de Cinema also had a major impact on budget execution.
“The managerial cash balance for the following year  is 99.6 million euros, divided in 96.5 million euros of balance amount for budgetary operations and three million euros for treasury operations", as stated in the document.
"We knew how to transform our weaknesses intro strength, we redesigned and reinvented processes, through a thorough, cautious and planned resource management”, Rui Moreira added, to whom “resilience, accuracy and focus were key factors to face the unprecedented year of 2020” and still keep accounts “Porto Style”, aka “contas à moda do Porto”, meaning covering its own expenses.