The book voucher for 18-year-olds will have a value of twenty euros, will benefit 200,000 people and will only come into operation in 2024, said the Minister of Culture, Pedro Adão e Silva, today.
At a hearing in Parliament on the proposed State Budget (OE) for Culture for 2024, Pedro Adão e Silva said that this measure has an allocation of 4.4 million euros.
This hearing was scheduled for Thursday, but was brought forward to today and takes place one day after the Prime Minister resigned, on Tuesday, because of an investigation he is the subject of by the Supreme Court of Justice.
“What we are going to discuss is a set of possibilities that were foreseen in the State Budget”, Pedro Adão e Silva told deputies at the beginning of the parliamentary hearing, which lasted around four hours.
In response to a question from the PSD about the application of the book voucher, the minister said that this initiative for 18-year-olds will be implemented in 2024 and not this year as previously announced, because “there are practical issues that were important to take care of”.
The implementation of this measure, proposed by the Portuguese Association of Publishers and Booksellers (APEL) in 2022, implies the creation of a platform so that the process is “safe and reliable”, as the minister explained last August to the Lusa agency.
Today, Pedro Adão e Silva revealed to deputies that “the specifications to launch the competition for the platform” that will operationalize the allocation of book vouchers through bookstores are ready.
“There are practical issues that were important to take care of, namely the control mechanisms for implementing the measure, ensuring that the bookstores’ software allowed them to receive book checks without double invoicing, ensuring that whoever receives the check, 18-year-olds, is who uses it in the bookstore”, said the Minister of Culture today.
In 2022, at the end of confinement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, APEL delivered to the Ministries of Culture and Education, the Secretariat of State for Commerce and Tourism, and the Presidency of the Republic a document with “three measures” that it considered important to mitigate families’ problems in accessing Culture and books, and to boost the book sector.
Among the proposals was “the creation of a book voucher of 100 euros for all those who turn 18”, in addition to the reduction of the VAT rate from six to 0%, in addition to “reinforcement of investment in library purchases either under the under the tutelage of Culture and Education”.
The OE proposal for 2024, according to the consolidated report of October 16 that accompanies it, foresees 518.3 million euros of total consolidated expenditure by the Ministry of Culture, excluding RTP, which represents approximately 14 million more than in 2023.
The Prime Minister resigned on Tuesday, accepted by the President of the Republic, after the Public Ministry revealed that António Costa is the target of an independent investigation by the Supreme Court of Justice into lithium and hydrogen projects.
The President called the parties to a round of hearings at the Palácio de Belém, in Lisbon, and will meet with the Council of State on Thursday.
In a statement on Tuesday at the Palácio de São Bento, António Costa refused to commit “any illicit or objectionable act” and expressed his complete willingness to collaborate with justice “in whatever he deems necessary”.