The Lisbon Liberal Initiative questioned today whether the World Youth Day (WYD) will not be the “World Waste Day”, considering the values involved in organizing the event, despite not calling into question its realization.
“The World Youth Days or the World Days of Wastefulness?”, asks, in a statement, the municipal group of the Liberal Initiative (IL), for which “the lack of organization and planning is in plain sight and therefore, now , at the last minute, they are running and making successive direct adjustments of several million euros”.
“In addition to this spate of expenses, there is a shift of blame between the various parties involved in the project”, can be read in the note, in which the liberals recall that the municipality will spend up to 35 million euros.
IL states that “it does not call into question the holding of the event” and recalls that, for the sake of the city’s image, “it is necessary to guarantee the success of this event, but calls on everyone involved to have the notion that this event takes place in Portugal”.
“A country at the tail end of Europe specializes in the art of waste and that hurts us all”, he stresses.
The liberals (who have three municipal deputies) recall that the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, asked that “the altar of Eduardo VII Park, estimated at around two million euros, be reviewed, and that the stage of the Parque Tejo, the one that ‘hurt them all'”.
The municipal group also recalls that the announcement of the choice of Lisbon to host the World Youth Day was made on January 27, 2019, but it was only in November 2022 that the Government and the Lisbon and Loures councils signed a memorandum of understanding to clarify the responsibilities of each one in the organization of the event.
The mayor of Lisbon admitted on Thursday that he was concerned about the costs of the WYD, but assured that he would not spend more than the 35 million euros he had committed to invest.
“When I arrived [à Câmara de Lisboa], my concern was to limit costs. I was the one who said that the Lisbon Chamber would not spend more than 35 million euros”, said Carlos Moedas (PSD).
However, the coordinating bishop of the event also revealed on Thursday that the Catholic Church’s budget for WYD has not yet been finalized, it will be announced in the coming days, and indicated a provisional figure of more than 80 million euros.
“Eighty million euros is the value that we managed to see in the 2023 budget in our responsibilities”, said Américo Aguiar, auxiliary bishop of Lisbon, president of the WYD Lisbon 2023 Foundation and general coordinator of the Local Organizing Committee (COL).
In the case of Loures, the cost estimate is 10 million euros and the Government indicated that it envisaged an investment of 36.5 million.
Despite the fact that the municipalities and the Government announced the estimated values months ago, the costs of the event have raised controversy in recent days, since it was known that the construction of the altar-stage in the main venue of the event (Parque Tejo) will amount to 5, 3 million euros. The work has already been awarded to Mota-Engil by the Lisbon City Council.
WYD is the biggest meeting of young Catholics from all over the world with the Pope, which takes place every two or three years, between July and August.
Considered the biggest event of the Catholic Church, the meeting will take place this year in Lisbon, between August 1st and 6th, with around 1.5 million people expected.
The main ceremonies of the day take place in Parque Tejo, in the north area of Parque das Nações, on the riverside of the Tagus, in lands in the municipalities of Lisbon and Loures.
The days were born on the initiative of Pope John Paul II, after the success of the meeting promoted in 1985, in Rome, in the International Year of Youth.