Foreign affairs minister in ‘mud-slinging’ fight
Portugal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva has come under fire from the Portuguese Confederation of Industry for slamming “the poor management quality” of Portuguese firms.
In under 48 hours after making the harsh criticisms, the President of the association (CIP), António Saraiva hit back by saying, “We now know what one of the most important members of the Government thinks of national companies and business owners. His admitted opinion speaks volumes about the way in which he fulfils the job that was entrusted to him when overseas. Promoting overseas investment in the country and unfairly denigrating the image of entrepreneurs and Portuguese companies does not seem to me to be the way to go when defending Portugal’s national interests.”
The comments came after the minister had said that one of the main problems of Portuguese companies was the very weak quality of their management and added that they didn’t really understand what was at stake and of the need to understand the advantage of bringing innovation to its processes as well as hiring employees with post-graduate degrees. But this too isn’t enough for its own sake. The industrial network itself needed to change”.
The minister’s opinion, which was anything but diplomatic, flies in the face of what the Government and various other voices have said various times at conferences with business leaders.
“It is so baffling when the facts go to show that the economic miracle that the country has been enjoying has essentially been down to Portuguese companies and their business leaders, the same exact miracle that the Government of which Augusto Santos Silva is a part of likes to boast about both at home and overseas,” said Saraiva.
Saraiva added, “The statements made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs could only be understood within the context of having been said by someone who has been living closed behind palatial walls (referring to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lisbon’s Necessidades Palace) for some time and doesn’t go out in the street to see how the real world works”.
The CIP says it accepts the problem of lack of qualifications that still exist in the management of Portuguese companies which is why it has launched company and business training programmes.
The leader of Portugal’s business community also pointed to the “bankrupt state of Portugal’s extremely weak political administration over successive governments, some of which Augusto Santo Silva himself was a member” such as the “Government of José Sócrates which led the country to bankruptcy.”