Added: (Thu Feb 23 2012)

Pressbox (Press Release) - Sourced from http://www.theportugalnews.com/
The austerity measures are affecting us all as countries across Europe prepare to tighten their belts and begin an economic diet, but following a recent announcement by the Portuguese government regarding the cancelling of a major national holiday, it seems the people of Portugal are quite prepared to ignore their leaders and carry on with their celebrations.
Shrove Tuesday - or ‘Entrudo’, the last day of Carnival - had long been celebrated with a national public holiday, but recently the Prime Minister of Portugal passed a bill no longer entitling civil servants to ‘tolerância de ponto’, which gave them the right to take a paid day off if they chose to do so.
According to news website theportugalnews.com, “the Prime Minister challenged the Portuguese to ‘whine’ less about their plight under the austerity bailout programme and to be more ‘demanding’ of themselves and each other.”
Dragao Porto, which is based in Portugal, is obviously very close to these events, with the Managing Director saying recently that; “These are trying times for us all and I can see why the government are anxious not to see the country’s productivity plummet for an entire day, but at the same time, it can hardly be fair to strip everybody of what has been a day of celebration for many years.”
The reaction of the town halls across Portugal, including Oporto, Vila Real and even the nation’s capital Lisbon, has been to publicly announce that they intend to give staff the option to take the day off regardless of what the PM has said. One MP from the town of Vila Real, Rui Santos, told Lusa News Agency that the town council voted unanimously in favour of maintaining ‘tolerância de ponto’ despite the decision of the government to axe the tradition. Mr Santos went on to say that this result is a “clear sign” that the council does not agree with the PM’s decision, adding that the measure will not disrupt work at the town hall.
The president of the Algarve Tourist Board, António Pina, also had misgivings about the government’s attempt to axe such a well-loved occasion, saying the decision threatened to turn the country’s tourist-orientated south coast into a “sad destination”. Mr Pina stressed that tourism thrived on events like the Carnival, “and nobody would want to visit a region with no entertainment at this time of year.”
“This is a very valid point,” agreed Dragao Porto’s Managing Director. “Tourism is one of Portugal’s principal incomes, and the Carnival would undoubtedly have a large appeal to visitors to the Algarve.”
Responding to the defiance of the Portuguese people, PSD parliamentary leader Luis Monteiro said that the Carnival “will be a work day just like any other”. When asked will minimum services be in place on Tuesday, Mr Monteiro restated that “ALL services” will be running as normal.
The Prime Minister, meanwhile, has said that the country “gains a lot” with the scrapping of the festival day, and states that “this is not a time to talk about traditions”.

“Another valid point,” concurred the MD of Dragao Porto, “we do need to pull together to see Portugal through the worst of the global economic crisis, but there has to be some level ground. Tradition has always been important to Portuguese people and it would be shame to see those traditions lost.”

Submitted by:Dragao Porto Admin
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