Summoning for the Lisbon Convention
Cuts on the most basic of the State's social functions have been justified with the need to finance payment of public debt. The austerity measures affect peoples' life conditions, making them poorer day by day and degrading their access to health, education, housing, work, justice, culture and all the other pillars of democracy.
Grasping the dimension and characteristics of the public debt is not only a right but an essential stage to develop future strategies for the country. Not all parts of this debt are effectively compromises undertaken by the State, and some may not even be legitimate. By auditing the debt, the commitments undertaken by the debtor will be verified, regarding its origins, legitimacy, legality and sustainability. A citizen-led public debt audit will carry through this analysis, investigating the public sector's
pledges to national and foreign creditors, including private debt guaranteed by the State.
Upon the troika's entrance in Portugal, Portuguese public debt had surpassed 90% of the annual wealth produced in the country (GDP). In
2013, when this intervention is supposed to end, the debt will rise above 106% of that year's expected GDP. Meanwhile, the production of wealth will have regressed to the values of more than a decade ago, and unemployment will have reached over 13%. These are the government's predictions. Reality could be far worse. Much will depend on the evolution of the situation in Europe and the rest of the World.
The European leaderships' inability, thoroughly demonstrated by the situation in Greece, jeopardises the Euro and the whole project of
European integration. Insisting on the road to austerity is leading to a new worldwide recession.
By the end of the troika's intervention, Portugal will have a bigger public debt and will be far poorer. In the meantime, the policies undertaken will leave a trail of destruction and social regression: public services dismantled, the public productive sector reduced to nothing, massive unemployment, lower wages and family bankruptcies. At this stage, the impossibility in terms of paying the public debt will be acknowledged, as well as the uselessness of the sacrifices, which will have only contributed to aggravate the problems they promised to solve, leading the country to a decline without an end in sight.
We consider avoiding this scenario not only possible, but also urgent and essential. In order to do so, the question of the debt must be faced
realistically and it must be dealt with in a way that is compatible with the safeguard of universally acknowledged values and fundamental human rights.
There is a need to recognize that the public debt is just one of the multiple commitments of the Portuguese State. Besides its contracted obligations with the creditors, the State has inalienable duties to its citizens, of current as well as future generations. The Portuguese State must guarantee the fundamental social rights consecrated in the Constitution, as well as in international law. These rights take precendence over all others. To let creditors' rights prevail over all other rights is illegitimate, not only morally, but also legally.
The Portuguese public debt needs to be restructured, and that should happen by initiative of the Portuguese State, prolonging maturities and reducing principal and interest. The postponement of this decision will worsen the conditions for this with the passing of time. Today it would be more difficult to renegotiate with the IMF and the EU than it would have been yesterday with the multiple private creditors, and an audit can conclude that there are parts of the debt that are illegitimate and should be repudiated.
Aware of the urgency of a different approach to the Portuguese public debt problem, the signatories promote a Convention to take place in Lisbon on 17th December 2011 to launch a Citizen's Audit on the Public Debt.
We appeal to all to mobilize in the preparation of this convention and to participate in the activities that will start on that day and many more to follow.
The Convention states as its objectives:
- To present all citizens with new instruments to oversee and intervene in public life that will reinforce democracy;
- To make perfectly transparent before all citizens the process of indebtedness of the Portuguese State and the current situation of the public debt in its many components;
- To debate the implications and identify alternatives for the solution of the public debt problem;
- To formally launch the initiative for a Citizen's Audit on Public Debt
The Convention assumes the following duties:
- To establish the fundamental principles that will shape the audit process;
- To define forms of organization of the audit process that will articulate an active citizenship participation with expert contributions;
- To constitute, elect members and mandate a commission that will promote the Citizen's Audit on Public Debt;
- To analyse citizen's audit experiences conducted in other countries;
- To articulate with other citizen audit initiatives, namely the Greek and the Irish ones, as well as with other movements that are organizing the European Alliance of Citizen's Audit Initiatives;
- To search for technical support with organizations that have accumulated knowledge regarding debt audits on an international level;
- To find forms of financing the citizens' audit process.
Tradução de João Camargo