Portugal Table of Contents
The reorganization of the MFA coordinating committee in March 1975 brought into prominence a group of Marxist-oriented officers who, in league with the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers-National Intersindical (Confederação Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses-Intersindical Nacional--CGTP-IN), the communist-dominated trade union confederation known as Intersindical prior to 1977, sought the radical transformation of the nation's social system and political economy. Abandoning its moderate-reformist posture, the MFA leadership set out on a course of sweeping nationalizations and land expropriations. During the balance of that year, the government nationalized all Portuguese-owned capital in the banking, insurance, petrochemical, fertilizer, tobacco, cement, and wood pulp sectors of the economy, as well as the Portuguese iron and steel company, the major breweries, the large shipping lines, most public transport, two of the three principal shipyards, core companies of the Companhia União Fabril (CUF) conglomerate, the radio and TV networks (except that of the Roman Catholic Church), and important companies in the glass, mining, fishing, and agricultural sectors. Because of the key role of the domestic banks as holders of stock, the government indirectly acquired equity positions in hundreds of other firms. An Institute for State Participation was created to deal with the many disparate (often tiny) enterprises in which the state had thus obtained a majority shareholding. Another 300 small to medium enterprises came under public management as the government "intervened" to rescue them from bankruptcy following their takeover by workers or abandonment by management.
Although foreign direct investment was statutorily exempted from nationalization, many foreign-controlled enterprises curtailed or ceased operation because of costly forced labor settlements or worker takeovers. The combination of revolutionary policies and negative business climate brought about a sharp reversal in the trend of direct investment inflows from abroad.
A study by the economists Maria Belmira Martins and José Chaves Rosa showed that a total of 244 private enterprises were directly nationalized during the sixteen-month interval from March 14, 1975 to July 29, 1976. Nationalization was followed by the consolidation of the several private firms in each industry into state monopolies. As an example, Quimigal, the chemical and fertilizer entity, represented a merger of five firms. Four large companies were integrated to form the national oil company, Petroleos de Portugal (Petrogal). Portucel brought together five pulp and paper companies. The fourteen private electric power enterprises were joined into a single power generation and transmission monopoly, Electricidade de Portugal (EDP). With the nationalization and amalgamation of the three tobacco firms under Tabaqueira, the state gained complete control of this industry. The several breweries and beer distribution companies were integrated into two state firms, Central de Cervejas (Centralcer) and Unicer; and a single state enterprise, Rodoviaria, was created by joining the ninety-three nationalized trucking and bus lines. The forty-seven cement plants, formerly controlled by the Champalimaud interests, were integrated into Cimentos de Portugal (Cimpor). The government also acquired a dominant position in the export-oriented shipbuilding and ship repair industry. Former private monopolies retained their company designations following nationalization. Included among these were the iron and steel company, Siderurgia Nacional; the railway, Caminhos de Ferro Portugueses (CP); and the national airline, Transportes Aéreos Portugueses (TAP).
Unlike other sectors, where existing private firms were typically consolidated into state monopolies, the commercial banking system and insurance industry were left with a degree of competition. By 1979 the number of domestic commercial banks was reduced from fifteen to nine. Notwithstanding their public status, the remaining banks competed with each other and retained their individual identities and certain differences in their activities.
Before the revolution, private enterprise ownership dominated the Portuguese economy to a degree unmatched in other West European countries. Only a handful of wholly owned or majority owned state entities existed; these included the post office, the armaments industry, and the ports, as well as the National Development Bank and Caixa Geral de Depósitos, the largest savings bank. The Portuguese government held minority interests in TAP, the national airline; in Siderurgia Nacional, the integrated steel mill; and in oil refining and oil marketing firms. The railroads, two colonial banks, and the Bank of Portugal were majority privately owned but publicly administered. Finally, although privately owned, the tobacco companies and Radio Marconi were operated under government concessions.
Two years after the military coup, the enlarged public sector accounted for 47 percent of the country's gross fixed capital formation (GFCF), 30 percent of total value added (VA), and 24 percent of employment. These shares should be compared with 10 percent of GFCF, 9 percent of VA, and 13 percent of employment for the traditional public sector of 1973. Expansion of the public sector since the revolution is particularly noteworthy in heavy manufacturing; in public services, including electricity, gas, transport and communications; and in banking and insurance. Further, according to the Institute for State Participation, these figures did not include private enterprises under temporary state intervention, private enterprises with minority state participation (less than 50 percent of the common stock), or worker-managed firms and agricultural collectives.
Data as of January 1993
Portugal Table of Contents