Portugal’s RRP is “not going well” says enterprise confederation chief
The President of Portugal’s enterprise confederation CIP, António Saraiva says that the recent resignation of the woman who was leading the National Agency for Innovation is a sign that the execution of Portugal’s Recovery and Resilience Programme (RRP) is “not going well”.
Joana Mendonça resigned from the ANI (Agência Nacional de Inovação) on Monday after being in the post since July 2021.
António Saraiva who is standing down as the president of the CIP (Portuguese Industrial Confederation) after 12 years at the helm representing Portuguese enterprises, also left a parting shot to the government in his last annual letter sent to business leaders, saying that 2023 “had begun on the wrong foot” and that the government, which had “all the advantages of benefitting from an absolute majority”, was itself a “factor for instability and uncertainty”, a situation that was neither “acceptable nor reasonable”.
On the RRP funds from the EU’s ‘bazooka’ António Saraiva said there was a perception that the “RRP is not contributing to economic recovery” and that companies “were bewildered as to why they had only received 23% of the €23Bn of (total) EU funding” since it had the “potential to contribute decisively to (Portugal’s) development.”
Joana Mendonça, an academic who taught Innovation Management at Lisbon’s Higher Technical Institute (Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) was the first woman to head the ANI institution.
She had been an advisory assistant to the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation in 2016 with a long and prestigious career behind her as a researcher and director of various institutions.
In her resignation letter sent to the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, and the Minster for the Economy and Sea, António Costa Silva, Joana Mendonça said that “that the conditions for her to carry on in the post are not in place” because of a growing difficulty in receiving guidance from the ministry, namely in matters of crucial importance to the agency”. In other words she wasn’t getting sufficient support from the government.
Among the complaints listed, Joana Mendonça refers to a lack of response from the government regarding the proposal for ANI’s activities plan for 2023, as well as a lack of monitoring and backup on various programmes such as the RRP, SIFIDE (System of Financial and Tax Incentives for Enterprise Research and Development) aimed at improving companies competitiveness, and PT20230 which provides EU funding for projects involved in six key areas: innovation and knowledge; qualifications, training and employment; population sustainability; energy and climate change; economy of the sea; and the competitiveness and cohesion of coastal territories.
Portugal’s RRP programme has around €12.6Bn to be applied to various projects aimed at modernising and digitalising the economy (both businesses and public administration) and reducing the fossil fuel energy dependance of the Portuguese economy, making it more agile and better able to compete internationally.