Business Over Tapas 12 November 2015 Nº 137

12 Noviembre 2015 1073 votos

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Editorial:

Two important changes are upon us here in Spain – the coming General Elections and the inevitable mess rapidly brewing in Catalonia. Will we recognise this great and ancient country in just a few months down the road?

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Housing:

For a triumphant view of Spain’s economy and housing market, where better than an article from The Saxo Group called ‘Spanish housing has hit bottom (and we called it!)’?

Spain is the top destination for Chinese investors in the Mediterranean, with demand up 392% in a year, behind only Cyprus in terms of annual growth, claims Juwai.com – a global property portal focused on Chinese demand. Recent improvements in the Spanish Golden Visa scheme might be one of the reasons behind growing Chinese demand for Spanish property. Official data shows that Chinese are one of the biggest groups of Golden Visa investors in Spain, and one of the fast growing groups of foreign buyers, up 26% in Q2, behind only the British...’. From Mark Stüklin’s Spanish Property Insight.

All these ‘green shoots’ in home-sales, says 20 Minutos, hides the reality – very few new apartment homes are being sold in the cities. In the last year, while business in ‘second-hand homes’ is doing well; the sale of new-builds has fallen by over 30%.

The Spanish Supreme Court has struck down the revised town plan that Marbella passed in 2010 to bring order to the real estate chaos left after the corruption of the Gil-Roca years.

This is a big blow for Marbella’s property market and economy, and introduces enormous uncertainty for owners of properties that were legalised by the revised town plan of 2010, approved by both Marbella and Andalucía’s regional government in Seville...’. Story from Mark Stüklin’s Spanish Property Insight. (AUAN press release at bottom of BoT)

‘Spanish house sales are falling through because “greedy” sellers are pushing up their asking prices, says a property search specialist’. It seems that ‘Costa del Sol buyers are increasing their sales price when an offer is received or even removing their properties from the market entirely. “After many years of falling prices it seems many vendors have taken as much as they can handle. Now the market is clearly turning some are becoming greedy at the last minute or having second thoughts after receiving and agreeing to an offer or even the asking price...’. Opinion from Opp Today.

Yo Me Tiro Del Monte writes that the Vulture Funds who bought rental homes in Spain are now looking for Government support. As one of the birds of prey says: ‘Sometimes you have to standardize aspects of rental collectives before they can begin to be properly operational. But the government has not been able to boost the use of rentals...’. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs, who in 2013 bought 2,935 rented apartments in Madrid from a public holding company called IVIMA, at an average of 68,000€ each, is now offering some of them for sale to the tenants, at a much increased price (El País quotes 140,000€).

‘Spanish taxpayers have declared ownership of real estate assets abroad amounting to a value of 9,207.6 million euros, of which half are located in France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Portugal. This information was published in a press release from Spain’s Inland Revenue (Agencia Tributaria) relating to global assets declared for the first time by taxpayers in the declaration of assets and rights located abroad tax form ‘Modelo 720’ corresponding to 2013, when the new measure was introduced...’. From Kyero.

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Finance:

There are many out there happy to advise you about your savings. ‘Often packaged as exotic-sounding investments promising income generation or capital growth way above the norm, buyer, beware of UCIS. UCIS stands for Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes and the Financial Conduct Authority has labelled them ‘toxic’. Their sale was severely restricted in the UK by new legislation which came into force on January 1, 2014. But now expats globally are being targeted by the sellers of these lucrative products...’. The story comes from The Olive Press.

Telefonica is pleased with its bottom line, which has risen by almost 70% in the first nine months of the year over the same period in 2014 to 4,577 million euros. See Media-tics.

El Confidencial has a survey on the economy: ‘One third – 33% – believe the economy has improved, but another 27% consider that it has gotten worse. In general, PP voters and right and centre-right responders had a higher perception of the comeback of the economy. The PSOE, Podemos and those on the left are rather more pessimistic...’. Then there’s a further 37.6% that see no change from 2014.  

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Politics:

The Madrid personnel of Standard & Poor got a shock recently when the Mayoress Manuela Carmena dropped by for the annual visit to the rating agency. She brought a camera and posted the entire interview on YouTube. Will S&P and Fitch (their meeting coming soon) retain their contracts with the MadridCity Hall? It doesn’t seem likely.

The long-time PP mayor of Almería, Luis Rogelio Rodríguez-Comendador, is resigning his post to run for the Senate on 20D. His replacement will be Ramón Fernández-Pacheco. Similarly in Jaén, the current mayor is leaving office to find work in national politics.

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General Election 20D:

Among the different proposals being touted by the parties, comes the proposal from both Ciudadanos and Podemos to legalise the use of cannabis. Ciudadanos also proposes reducing the number of municipalities from the 8,000 we have today to around 2,000.

Three of the four main party leaders (Mariano Rajoy being the exception) have agreed to a three-way cyber-debate hosted by El País on November 30th, from 9.00pm.

Podemos seems to be gathering interesting and well-respected people into its ranks – a senior military figure, a philosopher, an ex-PSOE supporting judge, another senior judge, a schoolteacher and brother of the unpopular ex-minister for education José Ignacio Wert...

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Corruption:

According to OK Diario, the ex-director of Valencia’s Ciudad de la Luz film studios, Elsa Martínez, awarded herself, her sister and her boyfriend a number of juicy contracts while serving there. All good stuff...

How to stop ‘un corrupto’, while in jail, from talking to the Media. Slap an ‘antiterrorist protocol’ on him. This is what has happened, according to the TV Cuatro (video), to disgraced (and now silenced) PP politician Francisco Granados.

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Catalonia:

The following is a bit like a culebrón – a soap opera: The Catalonian Parliament in its opening session on Monday voted to follow the path of independence (to be completed within the next eighteen months). The new Government is made up with a hodgepodge of politicians - the conservative Convergencia (Pujol's party), having dropped its long-term partner Unió (which promptly disappeared), as led by Artur Mas joined with its long-time rival, the hard left ERC, to frame a pro-independence group called Junts Pel Sí (Together For Yes), but with another independent, Raül Romeva - from a small group called the ICV - as a straw candidate. They won the recent autonomous election but were a fraction short of a majority. So, enter Stage Left, a lunatic fringe anarchist group called CUP, which is also in favour of Independence, but doesn't want Artur Mas as the next president. (On Tuesday morning, they suggested Raül Romeva).
On Monday, the two groups voted to declare
Independence (as El País huffily reports) or rather, to initiate the route to independence from Spain. Their resolution in English here. Another group in opposition, the Podemos-led Si Que Es Pot (Yes We Can) is in favour of Spain staying whole, but also in the democratic right of the Catalonians to secede. However, the SQEP were instructed to vote 'no' rather than - as at least one of them wanted - to abstain. Result - 72 'yes' and 63 'no'. On Tuesday afternoon, Artur Mas lost the vote for president, needing an absolute majority, but comes a second round on Thursday which will only need a simple majority... Now Madrid is not happy about this and will bring, says Rajoy, 'strong action'. The BBC takes up the story: ‘Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government would file an appeal with the constitutional court to try to stop the move. He told reporters that, after an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, he would "sign a recourse [to the Constitutional   Court] of unconstitutionality and will ask for... the immediate suspension of this initiative and all its possible effects"...’. Will this go down well in Barcelona? No. On Tuesday, the High Court had asked all the Catalonian-based police to act ‘against any crimes of sedition’. Some of them will not enjoy this instruction from Madrid. On Wednesday evening, the Constitutional Court suspended the Catalonian Parliament’s resolution saying that ‘it breaks up to eight articles in the Constitution’ and at the same time warned 21 senior politicians of possible arrest. The Govern quickly replied that it would continue with its independence plans.

‘Three ways Spain will tackle its Catalan problem: Let them vote, give them more autonomy — or throw the book at them’. Headline from an article at Politico.

How about a financial stranglehold on the Catalonians? Wolf Street theorises. ‘...From a purely political perspective, deliberately undermining the health of Catalonia’s already troubled finances may be an attractive short-term proposition for Madrid’s scandal-tarnished government, especially with general elections looming. It’s certainly preferable to sending in troops or Spain’s Civil Guard to “pacify” the region. To paraphrase Spain’s Ministry of Interior, “not even we are stupid enough to do that.” From an economic perspective, however, it’s madness. Catalonia’s economy accounts for 20% of Spain’s GDP...’.

The best solution – give Barcelona equal status with Madrid as a co-capital of Spain (it’s the same size anyway), and maybe move the Senate there, with some national powers emanating from Barcelona. Ah well, probably too late now...

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Courts

From El País in English: ‘Twitter user given 18 months after mocking assassination of Francoist PM. Beñat Lasa Fernández sentenced after making fun of Carrero Blanco’s 1973 murder by ETA’. Who knew?

It’s bad enough if you post an unfortunate ‘Tweet’ – which could get you arrested by the thought police, but now they want to bang you up if you ‘re-tweet’ someone else’s bilious posting. El Diario has more.

The ex-mayor of Lloret de Mar, Barcelona, has been condemned for taking bribes from a ‘Russian Mafioso’ says El País. He must accept nine years without political office.

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Brexit:

From The Independent: ‘So many Brits now live abroad that they're causing immigration debates. Oh, the irony. In an ideal world, every time your local racist started referring to that pesky problem of immigrants “stealing our jobs”, every British immigrant would appear, singing a heavenly chorus of: “Britain has more immigrants living abroad than India, China, Bangladesh, Poland and Hun-gar-reeeee!”...’. Meanwhile, Belgium has taken to ejecting those ‘comunitarios’ (the Spanish for ‘Europeans’) who are found to not have any ‘recursos’ (the Spanish for ‘money’) – having ejected 4,000 between 2013 and 2014, including 400 Spaniards, some of whom are making an official complaint to the European Parliament today.

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Various:

 

On the credibility of the Spanish Media (excerpts): ‘...“The newspapers are in the hands of creditors, and also in those of a government that has helped convince the creditors that the papers should be kept alive rather than just asphyxiated because of their debts,” ... “I don’t think there has been a worse time for freedom of expression in Spain since the death of Franco,”...’. Article at The New York Times. Following publication of the report, a nettled El País fired one of its senior journalists -Miguel Ángel Aguilar - for criticising the paper where he has worked since 1980. Story at Público.

The British historian Paul Preston, perhaps in an effort to sell his new book, the third volume of 'Franco, Caudillo de España', claims that ‘Franco was as bad as Hitler – much worse than Mussolini’. We shall just have to read the book to see if he is right.

What do the Spanish think of the Brits? Story at Eye on Spain.

‘Want to know the secret to long life? Live in Spain. Spain was once again ranked highly worldwide for its residents' long life expectancy. We look at Spaniards' secrets for what keeps them kicking longer than others...’. Report at The Local.

Sometimes, you just have to think outside the box. Take for example, the Picudo Rojo, the nasty palm beetle that has killed many thousands of Spain's beautiful palm trees. There wasn't much of an answer until now - maybe squirt the hell out of the tree and bury or burn any infected ones. Now, biologists have discovered a kind of fungus that kills off the beetles, and the main producer of palmeras, the Alicante town of Elche, says that the fungus is doing an excellent job - killing most of those pesky bugs. Story here.

Thirty things you probably didn’t know about Spain...

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See Spain

 

Forty of the best exhibitions across Spain this autumn. Painting, sculpture, architecture, music and photography. It’s all at Bez.

Valencia: ‘L’Iber Museo de los Solditos de Plomo lays claim to the largest collection of tin soldiers in the entire world, with over one million tiny figurines lining its shelves. It’s a strange museum, made even stranger by its location within a beautiful palace on one of Valencia’s most popular streets. Collections as eccentric as L’Iber are usually found in the dusty attic of a scary old hermit...’. More at Valencia For 91 Days.

 

A blog – Piero’s Music Caféshows ‘the best beaches in Caleta de Fuste’ and elsewhere on the island of Fuerteventura with some pretty pictures.

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AUAN:

AUAN PRESS RELEASE: A LIFELINE FOR THE RESIDENTS OF MARBELLA?

The Supreme Court annuls the Marbella town plan which aimed to legalise 16,500 properties constructed illegally during the years 1991-2006.

According to the association that campaigns against urban abuses in Andalucía, AUAN, a lifeline now exists for third parties in good faith who purchased houses in Marbella with planning permission that now appear to be in doubt as a result of the recent annulment of the Marbella town plan (PGOU).

Maura Hillen, president of AUAN said ‘Thanks to the efforts of various association in diverse parts of Spain, including our association, and an initiative of the PSOE in the Spanish Senate, latterly approved by the PP and other political parties, the citizens of Marbella have been given a lifeline that they may not know about. That is article 108.3 of the law regulating administrative court proceedings, which came into force on the 1st of October 2015 that says that ‘the judge or tribunal when, in addition to declaring the construction of a property to be illegal, orders its demolition ....., must as a prior condition to demolition, and except in cases of immediate danger, provide sufficient guarantees to pay compensation due to third parties of good faith’. Given this, we suggest that those affected consult with their lawyers’.

The lawyer, Gerardo Vázquez, spokesperson for AUAN, who worked on the initiative which resulted in the reform of article 108.3 on behalf of various associations, said ‘obviously the legislative reform, which has certain retroactive effects, does not say that the affected houses are legal, but it gives a bit of comfort to those affected because it ensures that you cannot demolish the house of a third party in good faith without a prior guarantee of fair compensation. It is evident that trying to resolve these problems via planning is a long, torturous and, as we have seen, uncertain road. For this reason we believe that citizens who have made the most important investment of their lives, such as the purchase of a house, must be protected via basic changes to state laws such as article 108.3 which is in force throughout all of Spain’.

He added ‘We have been asking for other changes for some time now. For example, according to a ruling of the Supreme Court, an ordinary citizen cannot rely on the Property Registry when it comes to planning matters. This is incomprehensible for many because it’s the Property Register isn’t it? Unfortunately, this means that you can have proceedings against the property relating to planning infractions that are not inscribed in the Property Register. Therefore a person can buy a house that appears to be fine according to the Property Register and later finds out that they have a house with a demolition order. This means that there are thousands of cases where innocent parties have bought a house that is apparently free of charges, relying on the information in the Register, only to find out afterwards that the house is going to be demolished’.

The lawyer gave an example, saying ‘Look at the case of Bueu in Pontevedra, for example, where it was declared after more than two decades that the building did not comply with the regulations due to a discrepancy of mere centimetres in its façade. The residents bought their flats in the building without knowing anything because the problem was not inscribed in the Property Register. The Courts decreed that the façade be demolished which left them facing the demolition of their homes without compensation. The residents were due to be evicted a few weeks ago but thanks to article 108.3, the proceeding has been suspended. We hope that similar cases will be avoided in the future’.

Asked about what the associations were looking for he said ‘we think that these types of proceedings should be recorded in the Property Register, precisely to reduce the existence of third parties in good faith who find themselves in this situation. In reality it is currently possible to inscribe these court proceedings but this rarely happens. We want inscription to be mandatory. This requires a change in article 65 of the National Land Law and to article 34 of the Mortgage Law. We believe that these combined changes will result in restoring confidence in the Administration, as well as transparency and security in property transactions. In addition, it will restore the image of Spain as a country where one can invest without worry, promoting foreign investment in property, economic activity and social progress’.

For her part, Maura Hillen added ‘We are publicly calling on the national political parties to make these changes. We appear to have a certain amount of support from the PSOE and we ask other parties to get behind these changes as happened with the change to article 108.3 of the law regulating Administrative Cases and the similar reform to article 319.3 of the Penal Code, because these are issues of basic social interest’.

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Letters

It’s a rare town that doesn’t have a handy foreigner living locally, delighted to help with the translation, but it’s a rarer town still who would stoop to ask...

Having read, or maybe should I say, tried to understand, the newsletter in ‘English’ issued by my town hall, a coastal town with a large number of foreign residents and property owners, on the CDS, I offered yet again, as I have been doing off and on for 14 years, to edit the publication. With a new lady in the Foreigners Dept. the offer was accepted. My first offer I recall was made when the town hall printed ‘they would pretend to do something’, translating incorrectly the Spanish verb pretender, which can mean to ‘intend to do something’.

As you say, it is ‘surprising’ that so much is published, supposedly in English, which is often either incomprehensible or very misleading/confusing when there are so many who would freely assist.

In my experience, in towns with a significant foreign population, just before the local elections, in which non Spanish residents can vote, the propaganda from the parties is usually in impeccable English, and probably other languages too, but after the election it slides back into a form of gobbledegook. I wonder when ‘they’ will start to understand that we are aware of their feeble attempts to mislead us into believing they care about us?

John

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Finally:

The Pop Group Jarabe de Palo does a good job on ‘Agua’. Found at Youtube.

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