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Editorial:

Eight years ago tomorrow (Friday), Len and Helen Prior lost their home in Vera, Almería to the bulldozers. The house wasn’t in a national park, nor was it near a road, nor was it on a flood plain. It wasn’t on the beach and it didn’t occupy a spot of natural beauty. There were a small number of houses – still extant today – surrounding it. Why did the Junta de Andalucía chose this house to demolish? How much income for Almería was lost in consequence, how many jobs were never created, and why are the ecologists still attempting to destroy the province through fresh ill-conceived idiocies? Confiscating and killing many of our local tortoises; uprooting the pita trees outside Almería; failing to protect the chumbo cactus; failing to deal with the invernadero menace to the water table and the subsoil; calling for the dry river-beds to be left uncleared – causing occasional flood damage. The same with dry bushes in the hills – causing occasional wild-fire damage; ignoring the Carboneras power station run by Endesa that accounts for 25% of all CO2 production in the entire region of Andalucía, yet fighting to have a ruined hotel pulled down in the same town; failing – even – to maintain their own park outside Almería, the Parque Botánico El Boticario (built with FEDER European funds, then simply abandoned by ‘Medio Ambiente’). But, we were speaking of the Priors. Helen tells me she still hopes that they will receive some day compensation for the outrage. Eight years living in a garage, with no water or electricity. Haven’t they suffered enough yet?

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Housing:

Young Spaniards stay home later than the European average, says El País in English: ‘...in Spain the average youngster doesn’t leave home until the age of 28.9 years ... later than the European average of 26.1 years, and far from Sweden, where young people become independent at the age of just 19.6 years on average. “There are two factors that come into play here,” explains Héctor Saz, the head of the Youth Board, the body that is behind the report. “The high price of property and a lack of steady work prospects.”...’.

‘The sun is once again shining on Spain’s famed Costa del Sol. The region was among the worst-hit during Spain’s real estate crisis, which left a glut of doomed developments and tens of thousands of unsold properties along the coast. Now the property market is making a strong recovery, built on the back of foreign buying. “Costa del Sol is one of the best-performing markets in the current cycle because prices are still much lower than before, the pound is stronger than a few years ago, and there are lots of properties to choose from,” said Mark Stücklin, head of Spanish real estate website Spanish Property Insight...’. Report from Mansion Global.

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Tourism:

‘Tourists seeking to avoid terror threat head for safety of Spain. Bumper year forecast for Spanish tourism as British and Russian holidaymakers shun Tunisia and Egypt following last year’s attacks’. Story from The Guardian.

The International tourist trade fair held in Madrid each year, FITUR 2016. This year is the 36th edition, from January 20th to 24th.

 

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Finance:

Unemployment fell in Spain by 354,203 persons in 2015, the biggest annual fall ever recorded, says the ABC. Unemployment currently stands at 4,039,508. However, from Typically Spanish, we see: ‘In 2015, the best economic year in Spain for the last eight years, a total of 18.6 million work contracts were issued. It’s an unknown number in many circles and deserves more investigation. Rather than giving a good indication for productivity, job sharing, precarious security, seasonality and the weight of part time and temporary working: One in every four new contracts has a duration of fewer than seven days. Over 2015 the number of new people joining Social Security was 533,186 which signifies the number of contracts necessary is 35 to obtain just one new affiliate to the Social Security. These are scary figures. Last month, for example, some 1.5 million temporary contracts were issued (half a million were by the hour) to employ one million people. Only 6.8% of the almost 1.6 million were for indefinite contracts (107,000).’.

(On taxes) These brief pieces should be of interest to expat residents of Spain. They also should be something potential investors in Spanish property buyers should look at carefully. If buying is a lifestyle choice, or for part time holiday living, those are in one package. To become a fiscal resident on the other hand is an invitation to buy into a living tax trap, and at the end, potentially serious inheritance grabs. Whatever emerges from the current political confusion is unlikely to make the situation better for expat purchasers who may consider permanent residence, quite the contrary. It seems the regime wishes to micromanage the financial affairs of Spanish citizens and residents, when it is clear they can’t manage the political, economic and financial affairs of the country- or most parts of it. (Reader’s comment).

‘Ten key facts on Spanish tax residency status’, from Antonio Flores at The Olive Press.

‘Paying your taxes in Spain’, from Antonio Flores at The Olive Press.

‘M720 tax form alert in Spain: Remember to disclose your overseas assets on time’, from Richard Alexander at The Olive Press.

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Politics:

The Economist has an interesting article on Spain’s election woes – both in Catalonia and nationally. The article concludes: ‘...Spain’s economy grew by an estimated 3% in 2015, but the recovery remains fragile and inadequate. Unemployment is 21% and GDP is still lower than in 2007. The most recent report by Fitch, a ratings agency, stated the obvious: a long period of political uncertainty and reversals of reforms will damage business confidence. Spain could use a strong government. It looks likely to get a weak one’. Read it here.

Wolf Street talks of Spain’s business and financial elite which ‘...was supposed to be celebratory — Spain’s standing President Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) was expected to pick up enough votes to form a centre-right, coalition government with relative newcomers Cuidadanos, a political party that had been carefully groomed by Spain’s corporate establishment and heavily promoted by the country’s media, with one end in mind: keeping the status quo intact...’. But, there’s many a slip...

Mariano Rajoy’s tactic is to persuade the PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez that – if there are fresh elections nationally in the spring – then the weakened PSOE will fare badly. Better, says Rajoy, to support a Government of National Unity now. Opinion at Público.

Pablo Iglesias from Podemos suggests that ‘sensible PSOE supporters’ should quit the immutable tactics of Susana Díaz, with her support for the old two-party system, and rather to cleave to his party.

According to El Diario (a left-wing news-source), the Left (i.e. PSOE, Podemos and IU) got 11.6 million votes in the December General election, while the Right (PP and Ciudadanos) scored 10.7 million. However, as it says in an editorial, there’s nothing set in stone... Indeed, thanks to the support from the junior partner in the Junta de Andalucía – Ciudadanos (!), Susana Díaz would probably prefer to see a PP/PSOE/Ciudadanos government in Madrid, led perhaps by Albert Rivera, rather than a leftist coalition led by her team-mate Pedro Sánchez. This Machiavellian conspiracy comes from El Espía en el Congreso, Spain’s answer to the UK political blog Guido Fawkes.

The different parties in the un-established Government can still work together to rescind various laws passed by the previous regime, says Europa Press.

The estimated cost of fresh national elections is around 170 million euros.

The radical mayors in Spain’s largest cities. An article at Popular Resistance talks of ‘A Sea Change In Spanish Politics As Citizens Reclaim The City’.

The director of the Basque ETA-supporting newspaper called Egin, imprisoned eight years ago long after his newspaper was closed down by order of the Minister of the Interior from the Aznar Government, Jaime Mayor Oreja, together with the then institutional judge Baltasar Garzón, back in 1998, has now been released from custody. He is interviewed about his experience in Diagonal. ‘I am angry that the closure of the newspaper was never described in other newspapers as an attack on the freedom of expression’, says Javier Salutregi. Público’s title (November 29, 2015) was ‘Spain’s last journalist prisoner is released’.

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Catalonia:

Following a final vote between militants, the eccentric anti-capitalist and pro-Independence CUP party in Catalonia has once again voted against supporting Artur Mas as president (and leader of an independence project for the region). Now, short of a miracle, the acting president must call for fresh elections in February. The leader of the CUP, Antonio Baños, disgusted with himself, has quit the party.

Pablo Iglesias, the pony-tailed leader of Podemos, is between a rock and a hard place. Nationally, the PSOE will accept a partnership, as long as Podemos renounces its call for a fresh referendum for Catalonia. If Iglesias holds his ground, then the increasingly popular mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, will throw her support behind him in the likely event of new elections for Catalonia in February. El Mundo reports. (Thanks to Per)

Catalonia news and culture: Vilaweb in English here.

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Various:

The numbers of copies sold by the various Spanish newspapers once again fell in 2015, with the four largest news titles (El País, El Mundo, ABC and La Razón) reporting a drop between them of 60,700 copies daily. Ten years ago, the four dailies enjoyed a print run of 1,185,000 copies between them - a number which has fallen now to just 500,000. Indeed, since the ‘crisis’ began in 2008, a total of 375 different imprints have been forced to close down for economic reasons and 12,200 media professionals have lost their jobs (figures through October 2015). Both reports come from market specialist Difusión. The thing is, of course, we now read our news on The Internet: it's quick, tailored and (apparently) free.

The Local interviews Sienna Brown, founder of Las Morenas de España, on ‘what it's like to be black in Spain'. Story here.

The Olive Press talks to writer Chris Stewart, who ‘...has slammed draft regulations that would make solar power generation at home completely unaffordable for all but Spain’s richest inhabitants. Solar power exclusively heats and powers the writer’s Alpujarras farm thanks to Andalucía’s 320 days of sunshine a year. But if new government regulations are passed, tariffs will be 27% higher for those generating energy at home.

Ah, how to mess things up: The Spanish town of Torrevieja, in Valencia, is justly proud of its new conservatoire, built at a heavy cost to the public purse (53 million euros). But when they came to test the concert hall, there was no entrance for a piano to get into the building.

And when they finally squeezed one inside, the elevators were not designed to carry its weight...’. Story at Slipped Disc. (Thanks to John D for this item)

We know that restaurants must offer their ‘menu del día’ for a cheap price. It’s a first course, main course, bread, a drink and a pudding or coffee for – usually nine to twelve euros. This popular ‘institution’ was introduced by the Ministry of Tourism during the sixties to encourage and protect tourists. Many restaurants still use the system today, says El Español in an article here.

Jaywalking – crossing the street away from a crosswalk – can get you up to a 1000€ fine in the city of Málaga. Ideal reports here.

There’s a fine new high-tech hospital in Lepe, Huelva. It cost around 21 million euros and took ten years to build and it is called ‘El Centro Hospitalario de Alta Resolución (CHARE) de la Costa de Huelva’. The facility was completed in December 2015, but there’s one problem. It is located two kilometres away from the nearest road, and neither the town hall of Lepe, nor the Junta de Andalucía, wants to be stuck with the bill of constructing the link.

There’s nothing like a sunken galleon full of gold to raise the expectations of international lawyers... ‘...As flagship of a treasure fleet destined for the court of King Philip V, the warship was laden with riches from across the continent: diamonds and emeralds from the Andes, Peruvian gold, Panamanian pearls, silver coins and other commodities. ... Now, more than three centuries later, the wreckage has been discovered. Announcing the find on 5 December, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, said it ‘constitutes one of the greatest – if not the biggest, as some say – findings and identification of underwater heritage in the history of humanity’. Initial estimates of the value of the treasure of the San José vary between $1bn (£662m) and $17bn...’. So, who does the wreck belong to? A report from Apollo Magazine.

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See Spain

 

Spain’s most spectacular castles’: a photographic tour from El País in English.

 

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Finally:

 

Fifty unbelievable facts about Spain. Here.

Business Over Tapas

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:

with Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner

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