Following an 11 hour extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers, the Government today approved a National Strategy for Preventive Civil Protection, which defines as “essential” the prevention and combating of rural fires including as a “priority” the strengthening of professionalism and capacity building throughout the system.
“Civil protection is not just for after the calamities. Civil protection has to start with the information that is given from the school to each house, so that we can all be better prepared to protect ourselves from the risks,” said the prime minister , António Costa.
In addition to its focus on professionalisation, the National Strategy for Preventive Civil Protection will reinforce the role of the Armed Forces and Air Force in preventing and fighting fires.
Government will provide up to 400 million euros to rebuild homes, businesses and re-establish crops
Government has today decided a series of new measures following the fires
- The State will become a shareholder of SIRESP, the company that manages the emergency communications network, and will take a majority position that will allow it to take control of the company.
- Pedro Marques, Minister of Planning and Infrastructures, today announced a set of measures on communications in the event of catastrophe, which also include the acquisition of four new mobile stations with satellite links (currently only two), the hiring of a redundancy system with satellite connection, to ensure communications in the event of a failure in fiber optic cables – which has happened successively in the fires of this summer.
- There will also be a “full cleaning up to ten meters” on both sides of the road and rail, amounting to 16.000 kms in the first instance.
- There will also be incentives for the burial of aerial cables in the technical channels that exist on roads and railways, reducing the payment to Infraestruturas de Portugal, which manages the national road network and the rail network.
- Measures already approved in the Extraordinary Council of Ministers that is taking place today. In addition to the Minister of Planning, Environment Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes also announced the hiring of 100 new sapper teams – 500 people – joining the 292 that currently exist. The minister also announced the hiring of 50 new nature watchmen.
- In terms of funds, Pedro Marques pointed to an investment of eight million euros in SIRESP, and 28 million in the cleaning of roads and railways. The Minister of Environment pointed to values in the order of 20 million. Caldeira Cabral spoke in 35 million euros, using structural funds, over several years.
- The Air Force will start managing the aircraft contracts involved in fighting the fires
- Greater intervention will also be the Army, through the Emergency Military Support Regiment,
The Minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, announced that studies will be carried out to create a fuel market for bio-refineries capable of using the residues resulting from the cleaning of Portuguese forests. This model will encourage the recovery of forest waste, ‘thus creating an ability to develop a collection system, either by local authorities or by companies that wish to do so’.
30 Million for Reconstruction of homes
- The Government stated it has decided to allocate € 30 million from the State Budget to support the reconstruction of homes destroyed in the fires and to provide up to 100 million for businesses. Plots of a support package totaling around 400 million euros, including social security and agriculture.
- The Minister of Planning and Infrastructures, Pedro Marques, announced that the survey in the regions affected by the fires found that there are more than 500 own and permanent homes partially or totally destroyed, which will be supported, provided that the insurance does not pay up.
- As far as business are concerned more than 300 affected, according to the same representative, the Government decided to “structure a system of subsidy of up to 100 million euros, with a view to supporting the acquisition of burnt equipment and reconstruction of installations “. There will also be a line of credit of EUR 100 million and an investment support system of EUR 100 million with 50 million Community funds. Again, at enterprise level, such support will only apply if insurance does not reimburse those affected.
- At the level of Labour and Social Security, Minister Vieira da Silva said that about 5,000 jobs will have been affected, announcing a series of measures to promote employment, highlighting the support to the treasury to pay wages for a period of three months, “probably extendable”. Measure that can walk in the order of 13 million euros and will extend to the cases of employment at risk resulting from the fires last June in Pedrógão Grande.
- For agriculture, Minister Capoulas Santos announced, support will be around 35 million euros, with two credit lines announced, one of five and the other of three million, for the installation of parks for depositing the wood and for commercialization wood at reasonable prices, respectively.
- The official indicated that 15 million euros will be allocated to “tackle the most serious problems” of soil erosion and water contamination.
- The Government will still support 100% of the losses up to five thousand euros of small farmers and “above this amount, 50% lost in everything that has to do with loss of machinery, equipment, facilities, stables, engines and crops such as vineyards, orchards and olive groves. “
“The total figures are in the order of 400 million euros. It is not enough, but they are close to that,” said Minister Pedro Marques at the second briefing of the day with the presentation of measures approved by the Extraordinary Council of Ministers that is taking place in the Palace of Belém, in Lisbon, to launch a “fundamental” reform in fire prevention and control systems and to adopt emergency measures to support fire victims.
According to the Minister of Planning and Infrastructure, the measures now approved for the recovery of housing and infrastructure of companies and municipalities, support for employment and the agricultural and forestry sector are “adequate for the scale of occurrences of the last weekend “.
At the first briefing, the Minister of Justice, Francisca Van Dunem, announced the creation of a commission to pay compensation to the families of the victims of the fires, which will have 30 days to establish the criteria, and then the Ombudsman will establish the value of compensations.