Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
Paris, 14th May 2013, 11h30
(As prepared for delivery)
It is an honour to welcome Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho at the OECD today. We thank you for being with us and for addressing the OECD Council.
Let me also welcome Mr. Carlos Moedas, State Secretary, and Mr. Miguel Morais Leitão, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs.
We are pleased to have among us today Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral, Ambassador of Portugal to France.
Special thanks go to Ambassador Paulo Vizeu Pinheiro and his Delegation for their most valuable support in organising this event.
Mr. Passos Coelho has been Prime Minister of Portugal since 21 June 2011. He started very early in politics at the youth branch of the Social Democratic Party and then move on to be a Member of Parliament from 1991 to 1999. After a stint in the private sector, Mr. Passos Coelho returned to politics in 2008 when he founded the think-tank Construir Ideias (Building Ideas). He was elected Leader of the Social Democratic Party in 2010.
Prime Minister Passos Coelho has defined as a key priority for his Government the promotion of economic growth and employment, while sheltering the social groups most affected by the recession. He has adopted courageous – and necessary – steps to address some of the underlying weaknesses of the Portuguese economy.
As a result of this renewed reform impetus, Portugal is among the OECD countries having recorded the sharpest reductions not only in the budget deficit since 2009 but also in external imbalances. This process has been paramount in assuring markets of Portugal’s capacity to implement and commitment to reforms, and in restoring debt sustainability and external confidence.
Prime Minister, the OECD stands ready to help Portugal and your Government to succeed, to build on the achievements of the past few years, and to pave the way for stronger and more inclusive growth going forward.
It is to this end that we prepared the “Better Policies” document that we presented to you this morning. This document lays out our analysis, the collective experience of our members and our advice on how Portugal can address challenges in key areas that are essential to restore convergence towards higher living standards: product and labour markets, education and skills, social policies and public administration.
The report shows that the gains from the reforms that have been adopted over the last five years to enhance competition in product markets and to make the labour market more dynamic are large – about 3 ½ per cent of GDP by 2020 – and that gains from further reforms could be even larger.
This work with Portugal is part of the close partnership we aim to develop with all of you, Ambassadors, to support your countries’ reform agendas with our targeted policy advice based on our shared experiences.
Prime Minister, we look forward to hearing from you and to learning from you how we can continue supporting you and promoting “better policies for better lives” in Portugal.
Prime Minister, the floor is yours.